In another horrible story out of Syria, a woman recollects how she was told by Muslim ISIS terrorists to spit on a cross or else she would be put to a horrible death. Recalling her story, she tells how she did spit on the cross and how she still regrets it to this day after:
They forced me to spit on the Cross,” Zarefa recalls. “I told them that it was not appropriate, that it was a sin. He said that I must spit. ‘Don’t you see that I have a gun?’ he asked me. I said to myself, ‘Oh, the Cross! I am weak, I will spit on you. But Lord, I ask you to take revenge for me. I cannot escape from this.’”
The shame is still visible on Zarefa’s face when she recounts the memory; her town, Qaraqosh, is liberated now, but she is still recovering from the traumatic two years that are only just behind her.
Zarefa’s husband died shortly after Qaraqosh was captured. She remembers the warning signs in the days beforehand, when a group of teenagers on motorbikes chastised her for speaking in Syriac – a language closely related to the Aramaic that Jesus spoke.
“Speak our language!” they shouted, in Arabic, the language of Islam.
By that time, many families had already left Qaraqosh, after IS had overpowered and completely overrun the Iraqi army, leaving the Christians unprotected.
For Zarefa, running was no option. Her husband was dying and she had no enemies in the town; she thought the two of them would be left in peace.
But Zarefa soon found out there is no such thing as living in peace under IS rule.
She shared how, soon after IS came, her husband passed away, leaving her a widow and more vulnerable than ever.
She moved in with neighbours, but IS fighters repeatedly harassed them and robbed all of the valuables they could get their hands on. And not just valuables.
“One day, the man whose house I was a guest in never came home. Some people said he was killed and buried in an open area. Others said that he fell in a hole. Another one said that only God knows what happened to him. The fact is that we have not seen him since,” Zarefa recalls.
From then on it was just the two elderly, single women left. As soon as IS found out about them, they told the women to move to nearby Mosul.
“We told them that we don’t want to leave; that we belong here,” Zarefa says. “That this is our home; we want to stay here. But they made us leave against our will. In the night, they took us from our house, they put bags over our heads and asked us if we had converted to Islam.”
Frightened, Zarefa says she “quickly told them that I had”.
A few hours later, when their hoods were lifted, the two women found themselves in an IS women’s prison full of mostly divorced women. (In the eyes of IS, it’s a crime for a woman to divorce.)
After a few days, Zarefa and her friend managed to return to Qaraqosh as “Muslim” women, but when they arrived, they found three IS soldiers waiting to question them.
“They requested that we openly profess adherence to Islam,” Zarefa says. “I begged them and asked them why we must do such a thing. ‘We will not add anything to your case by converting to Islam,’ we told them. ‘Let us choose our own way and religion.’”
The leader of the group got angry, drew a gun, pointed it at Zarefa’s heart, and threatened to kill her if she didn’t convert to Islam.
“What would you do if you were in our position?” she asks. “He said something, asked us to repeat it, and then asked if we were Muslims. ‘Yes,’ we said. ‘Yes, we are.’ And then they left.”
But that was not enough; the harassment continued.
Zarefa says different IS fighters continually came to their home and demanded money and valuables at gunpoint. When they had taken nearly everything and she was left almost bankrupt, she hid her last savings – the equivalent of 250 dollars – in her bra.
But even that was discovered.
“They forced me to take it off, and then they took my money,” Zarefa recalls, embarrassed by the memory. “Then that man pushed me down on the couch, put his gun on my chest, and threatened me because he was convinced there was more to rob. He shouted at me: ‘We will be cruel to you until you obey.’” (source)
As you think about this woman, ask yourself what you would have done. Would you have spit- and are you sure you are being honest with yourself? I say this because her story is another reminder of the necessity for Christians to be prepared for a time of persecution.
We know in the West today that we are living on borrowed time. Many of the ancient lands that Christians once inhabited in great number in Europe are being overtaken by Islam on account of the increase of Muslims into Europe and, even more importantly, the apostasy and refusal to reproduce of the European people. As we have been warning, there may come a time when you will be forced into the same situation.
Are you ready?
…whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven (Matthew 10:33)