Christians Who Welcomed Neighbors Fleeing ISIS Receive Unexpected Gift From Glenn's Audience

Mar Elias stands for Saint Elijah, an Old Testament prophet. There is a shrine to Saint Elijah in Erbil, Iraq where Mar Elias church is. Mercury One and Glenn Beck visited this church and surrounding courtyard in December 2015. At the time it was being used as a refugee camp and occupied by over 1,000 Assyrian Christians.

How did the neighborhood of Ankawa in Erbil, Iraq grow from a population of 30,000 in 2011 to 100,000 in 2015?

In 2014, ISIS overtook the Nineveh province, a large area covering most of the northwestern part of Iraq that includes historic cities including Qaraqosh, Mosul, Batnay, Karemles, and other predominantly Christian towns. After ISIS took over their homes, citizens fled in droves to Erbil, a city to the east of the Nineveh province. Many of these refugees were Assyrian and Chaldean Christians, Yazidis and Muslims, who all ended up in various neighborhoods in and around Erbil.

RELATED: Nazarene Fund Donations Have Saved Almost 2,400 Christians in Iraq

One of these neighborhoods was Ankawa, a bustling area which had several Christian churches, active open markets, crosses everywhere and a statue of the Virgin Mary at the entry point to the neighborhood welcoming anyone who came to the area. Generally speaking, it’s a very urban and western feeling area. There is an air of commerce, bumper to bumper traffic, a nightlife, and an engaged community. Ankawa is an anchor point for the Chaldean Catholic community in Iraq.

The neighborhood of Ankawa swelled to 100,000… that is more than triple the people living in the community. Tens of thousands of people arrived to the capital city of Erbil. The government was already financially burdened with the war and they could not provide enough resources to care for these displaced people. Many who journeyed into Erbil were Assyrian Catholics and they made their way to the churches in Ankawa and other neighboring areas seeking aid.

We talk a lot about what it means to be Christian and to live a Christian life. We could all take some cues from the residents and the Chaldean Catholic Church of Erbil and Ankawa. Instead of placing restrictions on aid or turning these people away, they opened their hearts and the neighborhood to them. The churches responded by turning their properties into refugee camps. The residents responded by welcoming and providing assistance as they could.

The refugee camps were throughout Erbil. Mar Elias is just one such camp and it is the first place that Mercury One went to assist. In December 2015, Mercury One arrived in Mar Elias (in Ankawa), where the refugees had been granted temporary permission to occupy the holy shrine and had made the square and the church a permanent home. Over 1,000 people lived in this area which is the size of a typical strip mall/retail center in the U.S. This courtyard and accompanying building had become a semi-permanent home. There was running water and a sewage system developed. A primary and a secondary school was created and the community committed to educating the children who lived here. There was a daycare. If possible (which you can imagine was extremely difficult), families were finding ways to make money. An open-air market had been organized and opened just outside of the courtyard’s gates… so a place for commerce was established.

Mar Elias had become the center of the Christian refugees in Ankawa. People from other camps would come to Mar Elias to socialize and share news. There was a volleyball court set-up that was incredibly popular, probably because it was just something so simple and normal and fun, an escape from the trauma these refugees had suffered and continued to endure. Some of the refugees were artisans and created a beautiful public art piece that serves as a war memorial for those that have been lost in this violent, bloody time.

In December Mercury One moved from Mar Elias 149 people – 62 children, 25 families – to Slovakia. This was the beginning of our ability to impact the lives of these people. But, it didn’t take long for Mercury One to understand that the best solution, and the solution desired by those who were impacted the most, the Christian and Yazidi population in the region was to find a way to stay in their homeland. We just knew that the life they were building in the Mar Elias’s courtyard and buildings was not a permanent solution. Though, the community had organized and it didn’t seem like there was a place to go.

It took almost 10 months, but by October 2016, the last refugees were cleared out and the grounds were abated, rebuilding and restoration process had begun. The refugees were resettled to private homes and apartments in and around Erbil which were funded by Mercury One.

Nearly 6 months later, Mercury One is proud, for the people of the Ankawa community, that Mar Elias has been restored. The Church is once again a place for quiet contemplation and worship. It was beautifully restored in time to host special services over Easter weekend.

On Palm Sunday, Mar Elias was packed with locals and refugees to mark the beginning of Holy Week.

Republished with permission from MercuryOne.org.

On Monday's episode of "The Glenn Beck Radio Program," Glenn opened up about the tragic death of his brother-in-law, Vincent Colonna Jr., who passed away unexpectedly on April 5. He also shared some of the important thoughts and insights he's learned through the grieving process.

"Last Monday, I was sitting in this chair ... the two-minute warning comes and Stu said to me, 'You ready for the show?'' ... And that's when my wife [Tania] came to the door of the studio here at our house and said, 'I...' and she held the phone up. And then she collapsed on the floor in tears," Glenn began. "Tania's brother had passed. To say this was a shock, is an understatement."

Glenn described his brother-in-law as having "a servant's spirit."

"He was always the guy who lit up the room. He was always the guy helping others. He would never stop, because he was always helping others," Glenn said of Vincent. "He was on the school board. He was a little league coach. He was the soccer coach. He helped build the church. He took care of the lawn of the church. He was constantly doing things, raising money for charity, working over here, helping to organize this. But he was never the guy in the spotlight. He was just the guy doing it, and you had no idea how much he had done because he never talked about it.

"We also didn't know how much mental anguish he was in because he never talked about it. And last Monday morning, after spending Easter with the family ... he killed himself. This is now the third family member of mine that has gone through this. And I keep seeing it play out over and over and over again, in exactly the same way."

Glenn described his thoughts as he, Tania, and her family struggled to come to grips with the devastating loss.

"I learned some really important things as I was watching this wake. I'm seeing these people from all walks of life ... the people that were there, were there because [Vince] made a difference in their life. He was a true servant. As I'm watching this, all that kept going through my mind was, 'by their fruits, ye shall know them.' The fruits of his labor were on display. He was a servant all the time. All the time ... he found a way to love everybody.

"There are two great commandments: Love God with all your heart and mind and soul. And love your neighbor. So those two great commandments boil down to: Love truth. Because that's what God is," Glenn said.

"Love thy neighbor. That's where joy comes from. The opposite of joy is despair, and that is the complete absence of hope ... and how do you find joy? You find joy by rooting yourself in the truth. Even if that's a truth you don't want to accept. Accept the truth," he added. "But we have to stop saying that there's nothing we can do. What are we going to do? Well, here's the first thing: stop living a lie."

Watch the video clip below to hear more from Glenn:


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After imprisoning a pastor for refusing to follow COVID-19 restrictions, Canadian officials barricaded his church. And when some church members retaliated by tearing down part of the fence, Canadian Mounties arrived in riot gear.

Rebel News Founder Ezra Levant joined Glenn Beck on the radio program to give his insight on the crazy situation. He described the new, armed police presence surrounding GraceLife Church in Edmonton, Alberta, and how it not only encouraged hundreds of protesters to stand with the church in support but forced congregation members underground to worship as well.

What's happening is eerily similar to what occurs everyday in China, Levant says, and it must stop. Who would have thought this type of tyranny would be so close to home?

Watch the video below to hear Ezra describe the religious persecution taking place in Canada.


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To enjoy more of Glenn's masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution and live the American dream.

Enough prayers? Why is supposed Catholic Joe Biden suggesting that Congress ought to stop praying for after someone commits acts of gun violence?

On Friday, Stu Burguiere and Pat Gray filled in for Glenn and discussed President Joe Biden's remarks during his speech on gun control. "Enough prayers. Time for some action," Biden said. Stu and Pat were surprised how dismissive Biden appeared to be on the idea of prayer.

Watch the clip to hear more. Can't watch? Download the podcast here.

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Just days after Canadian pastor James Coates was released from prison for refusing to bow to COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, several police officers showed up at another church to ensure restrictions were being followed. But Polish pastor Artur Pawlowski of the Cave of Adullam Church in Alberta, Canada, knew his rights, telling the cops not to come back until they had a warrant in hand.

Filling in for Glenn Beck on the radio program this week, Pat Gray and Stu Burguiere played a video of the interaction.

"Please get out. Please get out of this property immediately. Get out!" Pawlowski can be heard yelling at the six officers who entered his church.

"Out! Out! Out! Get out of this property immediately until you come back with a warrant," he continued. "Go out and don't come back. I don't want to talk to you. You Nazis, Gestapo is not allowed here! ... Nazis are not welcome here! Do not come back you Nazi psychopaths. Unbelievable sick, evil people. Intimidating people in a church during the Passover! You Gestapo, Nazi, communist fascists! Don't you dare come back here!"

Watch this clip to see the heated exchange:

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To enjoy more of Glenn's masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution and live the American dream.