Iraqi Christians are challenged with instilling love and forgiveness in their children in the face of relentless persecution at the hands of the Islamic State (IS).
The terrorist organisation has driven thousands of religious minorities from their homes across Iraq and Syria, and their intolerance is difficult for the children to comprehend. "It's hard to explain what is happening," Father Daniel Alkhory of Mar Elia Chaldean Catholic Church told Fox News.
"I was teaching them the parable of Ishmael and Lazarus, talking to them about heaven and hell, so I used that to bring up ISIS. I asked them where ISIS will go and they said, 'Directly to hell!'" The church is in the Ankawa district in Erbil, Kurdistan.
Thousands of displaced minorities have fled to the region, but they refused to be called refugees. "Refugees is a bad word and refers to people that don't know each other, but these people here are our family," Father Alkhory explained. "They are displaced people. We want to take the negative energy out with the words we use. And we never call it a camp. It's a centre."
Despite their attempts at lessening the gravity of the situation, the priest said the children are devastated. "The children are very traumatised," he admitted. "They've lost their hopes and dreams and we try to help them understand that life keeps going. "But a child is like a flower, we can shape them," he continued.
"We have to take care of them now; otherwise the next generation of ISIS could come from these children. "Through all their sadness and depression, they wanted revenge. I knew I needed to build a new environment for them."
Alkhory reported that the children's new environment includes arts and crafts, movies, talent shows, and academic instruction. The youth are also fed spiritually. "I just keep telling the kids you have to forgive," he said, according to Fox News.
"Forgiveness will lead us to so many paths. I don't want them to grow up and be after revenge and be angry. We want to make a party for them every day. "We just want them to be happy and keep smiling," Alkhory intimated. "We just want the children to feel like they are at home."