Magazine article Anglican Journal

A Boy Named Andrew

Magazine article Anglican Journal

A Boy Named Andrew

Article excerpt

People who keep up with the news will by now be familiar with the name James Foley. Foley was an American freelance journalist who was beheaded on Aug. 19 by the self-proclaimed Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), an al-Qaeda spinoff group that has been persecuting Christians and other religious minorities in Syria and in northern and western Iraq.

Lesser-known but no less gut-wrenching and deserving of attention is the fate of a five-year-old boy named Andrew, who was chopped in half in front of his father, Hana, during the ISIS seizure of Qaraqosh. Once "the Christian capital of Iraq," Qaraqosh is now a ghost town. "The murdered little boy had been named Andrew, after me," says Canon Andrew White, the vicar of Baghdad, in an emotional interview with the Anglican Communion News Service. White had secretly visited Qaraqosh and met Hana, the former caretaker of St. George's Anglican Church in Baghdad, who fought back tears as he recounted the murder of his son.

The brutal slayings of Andrew and James Foley, who had been held captive since November 2012, have stunned many. In death, Foley achieved what he had strived to do with little success when he was alive: bring attention to the plight of innocent civilians suffering under oppressive regimes and a chilling climate of intolerance.

While we don't know much about Andrew, except that he and his family moved to Qaraciosh when Hana retired, he was robbed of his precious, innocent life, and that will haunt us all.

In Foley, friends recalled a fearless journalist who was committed to the truth and who believed, as one recalled, that "you couldn't do that standing on the sidelines; you had to be in the thick of it." His parents say they have found solace in knowing that "Jim is in God's hands, and we know he's done God's work."

Born and raised Catholic, Foley clung to his faith while in captivity. He had done the same when he was captured once before, in Libya. "I know you are thinking of me and praying for me. And I am so thankful. I feel you all especially when I pray. I pray for you to stay strong and to believe. I really feel I can touch you even in this darkness when I pray," he said in his final letter home, which he requested a hostage who was being released to commit to memory since all written correspondence was confiscated by their abductors. …

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