Iraq (MNN) — A tragic story that began three years ago now has a miraculously happy ending. You may remember hearing about Christina Abada, the three-year-old girl in Iraq who was kidnapped right out of her mother’s arms by ISIS in August 2014.
Christina Abada reunited with her family; mother, Ayda, in the backseat. (Photo courtesy of Steven Nabil via Twitter @thestevennabil)
After three years of separation, and her family fearing the worst, Christina was reunited with her parents and siblings last Friday.
When young Christina was taken, ISIS was starting its sweep of terror in Iraq, going through Mosul and Qaraqosh and targeting minorities — mostly Christians and Yazidis. Those who didn’t escape were given a choice: convert to Islam, pay a protection tax, or die.
Christina’s parents were Christians in Qaraqosh, and her kidnapping became a focal point worldwide for the horrific persecution Iraqi believers were facing at the hands of ISIS.
Greg Musselman with Voice of the Martyrs Canada met Christina’s mother, Ayda, a few years ago in Erbil, Kurdistan and was able to hear her story. “They were preparing to leave that part of Iraq and go into Erbil, into Kurdistan, which was a safer area. While they were on the bus, Christina was in her mother Ayda’s arms, and an Islamic soldier came onto the bus and started looking around.
“Ayda was telling us she got very scared, and this particular Islamic soldier…came up and took Christina away from her mother Ayda. Ayda ran after her daughter, of course, as any parent would do, and was told that if she didn’t get back on the bus, she would be killed right there.”
After Christina’s kidnapping, her traumatized family met up with the rest of their children who had already fled to Kurdistan. But they never stopped looking for her, and a network of friends persisted in searching with them over the next several years.
Then they received the phone call that would change everything. Christina had been found alive and well in Hayy al-Tanak, a neighborhood in Mosul, Iraq.
(Map courtesy of Christian Aid Mission)
According to Fox News sources, Christina had lived in Mosul for the past three years with a Muslim family who had allegedly found her alone in a mosque. Her family says it seems like she was well-cared for.
Musselman says the newly-reunited Abada family is now integrating young Christina back into their lives, but it’s going to be a process for the child, now nearly six-years-old.
“The little girl, as you can imagine, is totally confused. She doesn’t even know who these people are, or the fact that they’re her parents…. She’s traumatized, and she’s going to need counseling and she’s going to need help. Ministries like VOM and others will be there to help her out.”
For now, says Musselman, Christina’s safe return is a wondrous answer to prayer — especially since so many other stories like hers never get any closure, or when they do, it’s not often good.
“To be honest, when I was involved in this story, in interviewing [Ayda], I remember it was a very dark room in this unfinished mall and as Ayda was giving us her story, in the back of [my] mind going, ‘You know what, this is probably not going to have a good ending.’ And I don’t know if it’s a lack of faith, but these girls just disappear and they’re never heard from again. But in this case, she has been reunited.
“I admit, even now, I get emotional about it because it is an answer to prayer.”
Christina and her parents and siblings currently live in a small cabin in Ankawa, a Christian suburb of Erbil, Kurdistan. They hope to eventually emigrate out of Iraq as there is nothing for them to go back to in Qaraqosh, reports Newsweek. Their old home has been destroyed.
Please pray for the Abada family as they begin the process of healing and restoration with young Christina in their lives.
Musselman also says that Christina’s story should encourage believers around the world to persist in prayer for those other names and faces who have been taken as victims in ISIS’ rampage — those we know, and the thousands more we don’t know.
“You think of the other young girls that are still being held captive, and mothers and the rest of it by Islamic State. We need to be praying for those girls and families, that there would be more of these stories.”
He also challenges us to pray for Muslims during this Ramadan season. The Arab world is seeing Saul-to-Paul-type conversions, as the God of the Bible reveals Himself to the lost and the persecutors of His Church.
“It’s during Ramadan that many Muslims have visions and dreams of Jesus, and in the last 20 years when there has been this really concentrated prayer effort towards the Muslim world…more Muslims have become Christians in the last 20 years than in the previous 1,400 years of Islam.”
Musselman says, “Our prayer really needs to be towards the Muslim people, that they find the Lord. And then, on the other hand, we need to be praying for our brothers and sisters in Christ who are suffering, because during Ramadan there’s groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda and Boko Haram and many other militant Islamic groups that are targeting Christians.”
Click here to learn more about Voice of the Martyrs Canada and their work with the persecuted Church.