Meeting the Bishop of Mosul, Mor Nicodemus Daoud Sharaf

Bishop of Mosul, Mor Nicodemus Daoud Sharaf
Don Michael Hudson, PhD

 

I was in Damascus, Syria in Jan 2017 four days with a group of people. We were fortunate to have an audience with the Archbishop of the Syriac Orthodox Church centered in Damascus. As the archbishop started the meeting, he stopped in mid-sentence remembering something important. He told us that the Bishop of Mosul, Mor Nicodemus Daoud Sharaf, was staying in the church/monastery for one more night–he was staying there while Iraq and Syria were being ravaged by Islamic radicals. Mosul, ancient Nineveh, was viciously attacked by ISIL (Da’esh), and the bishop, after staying as long as he could in Mosul, sought refuge in Damascus in the headquarters of his church and under the protection of Assad’s forces. You can see his video below from 3 Nov 2014 where he states what is happening to Mosul and the Christians there. The title of the video is “The Bishop of Mosul is Weeping.” The Archbishop told us that Mor Nicodemus Daoud Sharaf was leaving the next day to return to Mosul and rebuild his church and the Christian communities. The Archbishop dispatched an assistant to ask the Bishop of Mosul to join us for a moment. Little did I know who he was or how significant he is to Middle Eastern Christianity. He joined us and as soon as he walked in, his presence was overwhelming and generous. Just by looking at him you could tell that he had transformed his unspeakable sufferings into something beautiful. I also thought he looked exactly like some of my Harley riding friends back home. I actually looked at his hand to see if he wore a biker ring. I know, I should be more mature than this. He sat down while we were being served hot tea by the young priests. One priest offered him tea, he looked around before taking, and noticed that one of our group had been missed. I had noticed this but didn’t want to speak out of turn. The Bishop of Mosul stopped and asked the young priest to serve the one of us who did not have tea. Then he took his tea. He did not speak disparagingly of America, but he asked with true confusion why Americans were so intent on destroying his country, his church, his Christian brothers and sisters? Why would the “Christian” American president destroy a country, kill over 600,000 Iraqis, and then leave an opening for ISIS? Why would the American president be so intent on destroying Christian churches and Christian communities, some as old as 1500 years? Later, I was able to talk with him and shake his hand. No doubt, he is one of the greatest humans I have met.

The National Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Latakia, Syria

The National Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Latakia
Don Michael Hudson, PhD

A widow from The National Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Latakia, Syria. One of the most striking women I have photographed. She and 300 of her fellow congregants greeted us with a warm and generous reception in our honor–all this during the heat of the war in Syria. This is the largest Presbyterian Church in Syria with over 1,000 members. As we were walking into the church we passed the graves of those Presbyterians who founded the schools, hospitals, and churches in that part of Syria over 150 years ago. (Jan 2017)

Homs, Syria: January 2017