A message of forgiveness for so-called Islamic State (IS) given by a schoolgirl in a refugee camp “captured millions of hearts” when it went viral in 2014.
Now a 30-minute SAT-7 film, Sequel of Hope, catches up with Myriam and her family as they celebrate their first Easter back in their Christian hometown of Qaraqosh.
With World Refugee Day on 20 June in mind, Myriam also urged Christians to pray and bring hope to the millions of refugee children who are still displaced from their homes.
“Please, please, don’t forget the world’s children,” said 13-year-old Myriam. “I know what it’s like to think you will never see your home or your friends again. As Christians we must remember in our prayers and in our compassion all the children around the world who are suffering because of war and often because they are Christians.”
Five years ago, IS overran the Nineveh valley and gave the Christian-majority population the choice of fleeing, paying a punitive tax while under IS-rule, converting or dying. Myriam and her family were among the thousands who fled, firstly to Mosul and then to Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan.
In Erbil, the family lived initially in an unfinished shopping centre and later in a temporary cabin, supported by the Chaldean Catholic Church. Last September the family returned to their home in the Christian town of Qaraqosh.
Faith and resilience
Filmed in Qaraqosh this Easter, Sequel of Hope is being released for World Refugee Day (20 June), and shows both the destruction left by IS and the resilience of the Iraqi Christian community.
Myriam was only nine years old when SAT-7 KIDS presenter Essam Nagy interviewed her, just before Christmas 2014, at the refugee camp in Erbil. Asked how she felt about the terrorists who had taken their homes, she said, “I will only ask God to forgive them.” She later sang a beautiful worship song.
A video of this clip went viral, reaching millions of viewers around the world. Translations were made into Chinese, Russian, and European languages and reporters asked how she could forgive the terrorists. Myriam said she found comfort and strength in watching SAT-7’s children’s TV shows in the camp, programmes that helped her grow in her faith and extend forgiveness to ISIS.
In Sequel of Hope, Myriam says her family’s home was “protected by the hand of God”. IS destroyed much of her hometown, but Myriam’s house remained standing.
But after living as a refugee for four years, she says, “It’s not about the house. It’s about seeing what God is doing for you. God is always protecting you and you can count on Him.”
“I love Qaraqosh,” she continues. “It’s where I was born and studied during my childhood, but the more important thing is that I love to see people believing in God.”
It’s not about the house. It’s about seeing what God is doing for you. God is always protecting you and you can count on Him.” – Myriam
Keeping hope alive
In her saddest moments, knowing that believers around the world were praying for her and other Iraqi Christians – and being able to watch SAT-7’s children’s programmes – kept her hope alive, Myriam said.
Essam’s wife, Magdoline, travelled with the SAT-7 crew to Qaraqosh and appears in the film, delivering gifts from the girls’ Bible study group she leads in Cairo. She said, “Myriam’s story is all of our story. We all pray for a lot of things. And we wait and we wait and we wait and, over time, we lose hope.” Myriam’s return, she says, reminds us to wait on God’s timing: “Don’t lose hope. God knows what you feel.”
“Myriam’s story captured millions of hearts,” said SAT-7’s International CEO, Rita El-Mounayer, who grew up in war-torn Lebanon and – like Myriam – found a refuge from war in watching TV.
“If we want to change the Middle East, we must focus on the children. They have all this pain, all this brokenness and hurt, but God is using SAT-7 to bring a message of reconciliation and peace.”
Our SAT-7 ARABIC and SAT-7 KIDS channels kept hope alive for Myriam’s family.
Your gift will continue this lifeline for them and thousands like them.
- Praise God that Myriam and her family have returned home!
- Pray for Iraqi Christians as they return home and start to rebuild their communities and lives.
- Pray for the Iraqi Christians who are still displaced, that they will be able to return home soon.
- Thank God for SAT-7 KIDS programmes, which bring hope and comfort to children across the MENA.
Follow Myriam’s story
In 2014, there were three prayers on the heart of young Myriam and God has miraculously answered all of them:
- Going back to school
- Reuniting with her classmate and friend, Sandra
- Returning to her childhood home in Qaraqosh
In December, 2015, a year after SAT-7 first met Myriam, SAT-7 KIDS presenter Essam Nagy visited her family again and found her back in school and reunited with her friend, Sandra. Read story
In October 2016 SAT-7 KIDS Why is That? spoke to Myriam via Skype. A town near to Qaraqosh had been recaptured from IS and Myriam expressed the family’s hopes of returning home soon. Read story
Qaraqosh was liberated from IS later in October 2016 and displaced residents slowly began to return. In September 2018 Myriam’s family returned to their home.