When an ISIS commander demanded over the phone to know where the monastery sisters kept the weapons, Sister Abbess guided him by explanations to the library where he found the Bible.
“The Bible is the only weapon we use,” the abbess told him. “I encourage you to start reading it.”
This story was narrated by Sister Hayat, a 30-year-old Iraqi nun who fled Mosul in the summer of 2014 and is now helping refugees in the City of Erbil, as reported by World Watch Monitor.
She lived a quiet life of devotion in a Dominican monastery near Mosul, northern Iraq, caring for children in an orphanage. She also taught athropology at a local university. Then the Islamic State jihadists overan the city.
“When we realized that running was our only option, all the nuns packed a bag,” she said. “We met in the church and prayed, before kissing the floor one last time and closing the door of the monastery behind us.”
Hayat hoped to get back home soon. Instead, the Islamic extremists who decapitated foreigners and raped women entrenched and resisted American bombing and the Iraqi military.
Hayat is serving in a refugee camp in Erbil, where she spent five months caring for elderly nuns.
Tens of thousands of Christians are in as similar predicament. Their homes are now occupied by IS soldier or Muslims neighbors whom they trusted.
The Islamic State, which has formed its own nation with land siezed between Iraq and Syria, now occupies the monastery that Sister Hayat had called home for more than 10 years.
A few days after fleeing, an IS commander called the abbess, Sister Maria, to taunt her. “Just to let you know, I’m sitting in your chair now and am running things here,” he said.
Then he asked about arms left behind because he couldn’t conceive that such an important building in the community would be without an armory, Hayat said.
That’s when the abbess led him to the library.
“There are no weapons here, just books,” the man shouted through the phone.
She explained the the Bible is the sword of Spirit and is able to change a person from the inside.
Today, Hayat is fatigued from hardships in the refugee camp. When asked about fleeing from her beloved monastery, she can’t hold back the tears. It was the place she consecrated herself to God 14 years earlier.
Since coming, she’s voluntarily endured hardships to express solidarity with others who are fleeing.
At first, “there was no place for me to sleep, but in these eventful days nobody noticed that,” she said. “So I used the laundry room to sleep on the floor. My bag was my pillow and I made a bed of laundry every night. The nuns never knew and I didn’t want them to know I was staying in such a bad condition because I came to serve. That was my way to express my solidarity with all the people on the run.”
Hayat started a prayer meeting among the youth in the camp.
“The needs of the refugees were so huge that we felt the need to begin praying in an organized way,” she said. “It started as a small seed with just a few youth gathered in the garden of a refugee center. They lit candles and prayed silently or out loud. Many prayed things like ‘God, have mercy upon us!’ or ‘God, please let us go back to our homes!’
“People pray for each other’s needs. Whole families show up asking for prayer and pray for others in return.”
Sister Hayat says Christians in Iraq are “confused, in shock, and feel unsafe. They are without identity and feel completely lost in their own country. They’re asking God what He wants them to do. Should they migrate? Or should they stand firmly in this country, accepting what God is doing here? Pray that God opens doors for them and shows them which one to take.”
This article appeared originally in GodReports.com here.