149 Iraqi Christian refuges taken to safety in Slovakia in secret operation
News has just broken that 149 Christian refugees who escaped from ISIS in Iraq are now safe and will be celebrating Christmas in Slovakia, thanks to a secret co-ordinated rescue mission led by Christian writer Johnnie Moore and by media personality Glenn Beck. Moore is a humanitarian who for years has helped the Church in Iraq and Syria and spoken out against the persecution of Middle Eastern Christians. Earlier this year he published a book “Defying ISIS: Preserving Christianity in the Place of Its Birth and in Your Own Backyard”.
Unlike hundreds of thousands of others, these Christian refugees did not have to pay illegal smugglers or endure the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean in an unsafe boat. A privately chartered Airbus transported them from their IS –controlled home in theNineveh Plains, a region in northeast Iraq, to safety in Europe.
The rescue operation was shrouded in secrecy. The only hint was a cryptic tweet “Requesting prayer for something I have been quietly working on for a long time. The next 24 hours are critical,” sent out by Moore shortly before the rescue flight.
“We’ve been working on this for about six months,”revealed Moore. Concerned about safety of the hundreds of thousands of people fleeing Iraq and Syria, he said “We decided to work on providing safe and legal ways for people to get out”. Prolonged negotiation efforts with various countries were unsuccessful: “Unfortunately very, very few countries would even talk to us.”
It took two and a half months of negotiation to get Slovakia to agree. However, the outcome for future rescues looks hopeful, as Moore commented: “ This is the first group in a number of groups that we hope to be able to resettle in the coming months.”