Frustrated ISIS commander searches monastery for weapons, finds Bibles

Sister Hayat

By Michael Ashcraft and Mark Ellis

Sister Hayat, a 30-year-old Iraqi nun, lived a quiet life of devotion in a Dominican monastery near Mosul, Iraq.  She helped care for children in an orphanage and also taught anthropology at a local university. Then ISIS jihadists overran the city.

“When we realized that running was our only option, all the nuns packed a bag,” she said. “We met in the church and prayed, before kissing the floor one last time and closing the door of the monastery behind us.”

She is now helping refugees in the city of Erbil, where she spent the last five months caring for elderly nuns, according to a report by World Watch Monitor.

A few days after fleeing, an ISIS commander called the abbess, Sister Maria, to taunt her. “Just to let you know, I’m sitting in your chair now and am running things here,” he said.

Then he demanded to know where the sisters kept their weapons; he couldn’t conceive that such an important building in the community would be without an armory, Hayat told World Watch Monitor.

Refugees flee Mosul
Refugees flee Mosul

Sister Maria guided him to the library.

But his careful search didn’t turn up what he was looking for and he called her back, noticeably upset.

“There are no weapons here, just books,” the man shouted through the phone.

She explained the Bible is the sword of the Spirit and is able to change a person from the inside. “The Bible is the only weapon we use,” the abbess told him. “I encourage you to start reading it.”

Hayat hoped to return to the monastery soon, but the Islamic extremists have entrenched themselves there and have been able to resist American bombing and the Iraqi military.

Tens of thousands of Christians are in a similar predicament. Their homes are now occupied by ISIS soldiers or Muslims neighbors whom they trusted.

Today, Hayat is fatigued from hardships in the refugee camp. When asked about fleeing from her beloved monastery, she can’t hold back the tears. It was the place where she consecrated herself to God 14 years earlier.

Since arriving at the camp, she’s voluntarily endured hardships to express solidarity with others who have fled.

A refugee camp in Erbil
A refugee camp in Erbil

At first, “there was no place for me to sleep, but in these eventful days nobody noticed that,” she said. “So I used the laundry room to sleep on the floor. My bag was my pillow and I made a bed of laundry every night. The nuns never knew and I didn’t want them to know I was staying in such a bad condition because I came to serve. That was my way to express my solidarity with all the people on the run.”

Hayat started a prayer meeting among the youth in the camp.

“The needs of the refugees were so huge that we felt the need to begin praying in an organized way,” she said. “It started as a small seed with just a few youth gathered in the garden of a refugee center. They lit candles and prayed silently or out loud. Many prayed things like ‘God, have mercy upon us!’ or ‘God, please let us go back to our homes!’


  1. Father, we pray that men in whatever situation they find themselves, an ISIS commander or a homeless man, will come across a Bible and touch it with his hands. We pray Father, that every man will be compelled by a curiosity inside him, a desire in his heart to open Your Word and read. Your promise in Isaiah 55 is that the Word will not return void. We pray that an ISIS commander, a prosperous business man, a poor man, every man, will be delivered as he is touched by the gospel of Christ.

  2. Please say what we can do. I have 969 friends on facebook. I will share the answer with all of them. Jesus loves Sister Hayak and everyone she minister to.

  3. PLEASE tell us what we may do, other than to pray for your safety, and the courage to hold on. GOD does see you and He holds you in the palm of His very capable hand. He sits on His throne, at the MERCY SEAT. ……..Just hang on- help is coming. Psalm 121 ” I will lift mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the LORD……” We are lifting you up, precious and brave sister. Help is coming!!!!

  4. We love you and pray for your work as you fight a good fight of faith, we will never alone Jesus is with till death, and after death live with Him at our HOME Heaven for ever and ever, praise the Lord, time to stand for our faith in Jesus.
    Keep doing all you do to our brethern that are need of help and care God will reward you openly Amen.
    Bishop Jonah Bedan. Kenya-Africa.

  5. I suggest that the best defence is a good offence.
    I call on the world to see Islam intend to inslave it and bring about the conditions for their 13th Imam or ‘prophet’. Seek God.

  6. We must pray for salvation for that Catholic nun too. That she may renounce that satanic cult and renounce the witch doctor pope and be born again and become a Christian. Hoping you will join me to pray for her salvation.

    • Satanic cult?? Witch doctor pope?? Spewing hatred with all you have read and what these people are all going thru?? I think that you, as a Christian person that you have posted, need to pray for forgiveness and your sins of judging others so terribly. She is a Catholic nun, not in a satanic cult. The Catholic faith has existed for many, many years. I would think that after reading this article where evil has tried to extinguish believers of God, that your post would be more humble and loving, not filled with hate and judgement. That is NOT what a Christian does.

  7. I pray ISIS repents and accepts the inevitable deity that Jesus Christ is Lord AND that the allies kill all those who continue to hurt others.

  8. Father in the Holy Name Of Jesus Lord I lift this Sister up before you help her endure an give her strength to over come . give her ur care as you have watched over her this far and will go far beyond even anything we could ever imagine in our human mind safety and Love Father In Jesus Name I Pray !

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