There are around half a million Yazidis in Iraq, with less than a thousand known Christians among them. As an ethnic minority, they have faced severe discrimination and persecution for many years – largely because they do not follow Islam, the nation’s dominant faith.
Tucked away in northern Iraq, the Yazidis are misfits in this part of the world – neither Muslim nor Christian, nor Arab nor Kurd. They marry from within their own group and certainly don’t accept converts. Food aid doesn’t seem to make it here, schools are in short supply and their politicians simply don’t have a voice.
The Yazidi people are Zoroastrian – they believe that God created seven archangels and gave the world over to the angel who refused to bow down to Adam. They call him the Peacock Angel. In Islam, this Peacock Angel is called “Shaytan” which is a name for Satan. Because of this, the Yazidi are regarded as devil worshippers – you can even find images of snakes at Yazidi temples.
Over the past few years, large numbers of Yazidis have had to flee their homeland due to the onslaught of ISIS in northern Iraq. However, they are often not welcome in the many refugee camps that have been set up as they are despised by local Muslims. As a result, they must search for other places to stay, often creating shelters out of whatever materials are available.
The Yazidis are not the only outcasts among Iraqi Muslims however, with Christians in the area facing many of the same difficulties. As a result, the two groups are interacting in ways they never have before. A team of Christian pastors are ministering to the Yazidi community, building relationships and sharing the gospel in relationships built through the giving of essential items such as heaters, tarpaulins and blankets.
Please pray with us for the Yazidis in Iraq, and for the teams reaching out to this group of people.
This article first appeared in the AsiaLink magazine.