21 February 2017
Refugee Agnan Adnidihad fled Iraq and settled in Jordan, but hopes one day to join his daughter in the United States. (photo: Greg Kandra)
One of the heroic figures I’ve met during my time at CNEWA is this gentleman: Agnan Adnidihad, a 62-year-old former auto mechanic from Mosul, Iraq. I met him at the Italian Hospital in Amman, Jordan — a facility supported by CNEWA — in the spring of 2015, just a few months after he had fled Iraq. He had barely escaped with his life as ISIS swept in and took over.
As the translator explained when I spoke with Agnan: “They gave him three choices: convert, pay a tax, or be killed.” Agnan ran away, but was caught. They took everything he owned, all his money and papers, but he managed to escape and eventually made his way to Jordan.
When I met him, he was being treated for heart trouble and high blood pressure. The invasion and his escape had taken a terrible toll on him. He was looking to begin his life over somewhere else. “There is no hope for the future in Iraq,” he said. “They destroyed our homes, our work, everything.” His dream was to live with his daughter in the United States.
The one thing that sustained him, he told me, was his faith.
“Faith helps. I pray all the time. I pray to our Father in heaven and offer prayers for our Lady,” he said.
His story, of course, is just one of many. There are countless other refugees and displaced persons like Agnan Adnidihad around the world, fleeing persecution and even death.
I often tell people about Agnan when I visit parishes to talk about CNEWA’s work among refugees in the Middle East. We need to remember and pray for him and so many others like him — unsung heroes of our time who never give up hoping and praying. Despite everything, they still hold fast to their faith. It’s hard not to leave encounters with these people without feeling inspired and grateful — and deeply humbled.
You can watch my interview with Agnan Adnidihad here.