Sometimes people joke, "If you were accused of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?" We know there would for those who live in Hamdaiya, Iraq. It's the nation's oldest Christian town, and from 2014 to late 2016,it was a hotbed of ISIS. Here terrorists planned attacks and assembled bombs. Two years ago the Church of the Immaculate Conception was empty and barren, but when members gathered for Easter mass this year, they knew they could once again celebrate without fear.
A large congregation shuffled into the pews, and a priest spoke in Syriac only blocks away from where militants had plotted chaos and genocide. Many residents left during the ISIS occupation and doubted if they could ever return. Now, with ISIS stripped of its land, Hamdaniya is resurgent. Its bustling streets and rebuilt homes rebuff any fears that the ancient plains of Nineveh would never again be home to a Christian minority who have lived there since the earliest years of civilization.