MCC Photo/Nathan Hershberger

Sunset at St. Peter's Seminary just outside Ankawa, Iraq.  The seminary had been located in Baghdad but moved to Ankawa in 2007 and 2008 because of targeted violence.

“As you carried your cross, O Lord, we carried it too.
We lost everything except the cross hanging around our necks and in our cars.
We looked at this cross when we were forced to leave our houses.
It is the cross of the pain and the hope,
the cross of the sadness and the hope,
the cross of the resistance and the steadiness
of those who endure injustice but respond to it in love,
even when we feel that the injustice is increasing.

We carried this cross from our lands in Nineveh to other lands
and we still hang on to it.
In spite of all this, you can see the smiles on our faces;
you feel the goodness of our neighbors.
We are full of hope and trust in you O Lord.”

The author of this prayer, Martin Baani, is a student at St. Peter's Seminary in Ankawa, northern Iraq, where Mennonite Central Commitee (MCC) provides English teachers. Baani was among the Christians who fled from Karamlesh, in Iraq’s Nineveh Plain, as the Islamic State group advanced. He wrote this prayer as a reflection on Christ carrying the cross. MCC worker Nathan Hershberger of Harrisonburg, Virginia, assisted Father Fadi, rector at the seminary, in editing and translating this prayer from Arabic into English.