Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho (2008) - Endured Harassment
You endured in a great conflict full of suffering… You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. Hebrews 10:32b, 36
It seems that Iraqi Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho was prepared for martyrdom. Before his death, he had said, “We Christians of Mesopotamia are used to religious persecution and pressures by those in power. After Constantine, persecution ended only for Western Christians whereas in the East threats continued. Even today we continue to be a Church of martyrs.”
He was kidnapped in February 2008 by armed gunmen who ambushed his car just after he had led a church service in Mosul. Rahho’s driver and two companions were killed during the abduction. He was put in the boot, where he managed to pull out his mobile phone and call his church, instructing them not to pay any ransom demands. Rahho’s body was found in a shallow grave the following month.
The kidnapping and murder of Iraqi Christians and Church leaders became a regular occurrence in the years following the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003; Islamist extremists did not hide the fact that they were trying to “cleanse” the country of any trace of Christianity by violence, threats and intimidation.
Rahho had been outspoken about the persecution of Iraqi Christians, and in 2006 he raised concerns about the inclusion of some aspects of sharia in the new Iraqi constitution. The Archbishop had endured harassment and threats; on one occasion he was accosted by gunmen in the street, but he walked on, daring them to shoot him, and in 2004 he was forced to watch as his official residence was set ablaze.
Rahho served the Christian community in Mosul for the majority of his life. He opened an orphanage for children with disabilities and became archbishop in 2001. Rahho was described as a warm, humble and compassionate man who courageously defended his flock. He died aged 65.
May Jesus Christ, the king of glory, help us to make the right use of all the myrrh [suffering] that God sends, and to offer to him the true incense of our hearts; for his Name’s sake. Amen.
Johann Tauler (1300-1361)
Dr Patrick Sookhdeo is the International Director of Barnabas Fund and the Executive Director of the Oxford Centre for Religion and Public Life.
Originally appeared on Isaac Publishing
For Other Articles by Dr Patrick Sookhdeo
Mehr Khan (1915) - Killed and Son Kidnapped