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50 Miles from ISIS, Iraqi Christians Attend Sunday Service, Pray for Safety, Peace (Photos)

( [email protected] ) Sep 15, 2014 02:36 PM EDT

Displaced Iraqi Christians
Christians could face execution by the militants for their religious beliefs

A group of Iraqi Christians recently attended a church service to pray for their lives and livelihoods just 50 miles away from the frontline of the Islamic State attacks.

The Daily Mail reports that the men and women who went to Sunday Mass yesterday at St Joseph Church in Irbil, northern Iraq, are part of a rapidly dwindling minority as extremists sweep through their nation forcing Christians to "convert or die."

"We pray for our nation today, we pray for our safety, we pray for peace," prayed one worshipper as tears ran down her face.

"We pray that you will restore our nation to You, Lord."

Displaced Iraqi Christians
As Christians fled violent threats from ISIS, the militant group has declared a caliphate ,or Islamic State in parts of Syria and northern Iraq, and is seeking to impose extremist Sunni ideology.

Only a small amount of Kurdish fighters, supported by a few hundred U.S. troops, separate these faithful Christians from the violence which has permeated much of Iraq, including the city of Mosul 50 miles away.

"Christian refugees are struggling. They're discouraged, they're hunted-- many of these people have lost everything that they've owned and everything they've ever ever known, particularly those who have fled from Mosul," said Sean Malone, director CRI Ministries, a humanitarian organization working on the frontlines with displaced Iraqis.

As Christians fled violent threats from ISIS, the militant group has declared a caliphate ,or Islamic State in parts of Syria and northern Iraq, and is seeking to impose extremist Sunni ideology.

Believers have been forced to flee cities such as Mosul and Qaraqosh, which have been home Iraqi Christians for centuries, and relocated to Irbil, the capital of the region.

The number of Christians in Iraq has dwindled from around 1 million in 2003 to as low as 200,000 according to some reports, and 1.8 million Iraqis have been displaced by the spread of ISIS since January.

Displaced Iraqi Christians
The number of Christians in Iraq has dwindled from around 1 million in 2003 to as low as 200,000 according to some reports, and 1.8 million Iraqis have been displaced by the spread of ISIS since January.

Malone encourages Christians around the world to pray for persecuted Christians according to the words of Acts 4:29-31, which states, "Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus."

"That's what Iraqi Christians need in this season," said Malone.

"However, while they are running, we can literally see such a great harvest for the Lord--and that's the nature of God--He turns all things together for good for those who love Him. The Church must rise up--today. There needs to be a bold witness in this hour."