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Franklin Graham found an Operation Christmas Child shoebox amid the rubble.
Franklin Graham found an Operation Christmas Child shoebox amid the rubble. (Franklin Graham/Facebook)

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Only about seven families remain in Qaraqosh, an ancient biblical city that used to thrive on Christianity.  

More than 50,000 others were driven out or executed by the Islamic State when they conquered portions of Iraq, Franklin Graham says.  

"I visited a church that had been burned and destroyed by ISIS and met with the pastor. Incredibly, in the ashes and debris, we discovered one of our Samaritan's Purse Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes that had been given to a child there at some point. I couldn't help but wonder where the child who received this box is today," the evangelist posted to Facebook on Easter.  

Qaraqosh was the largest Christian city in the predominantly Muslim country until the Islamic State invaded in 2014.   

ISIS lost Qaraqosh during the Mosul Campaign late last fall when Iraqi forces drove the radical Islamists from the territory.  

As Christians carefully returned to the region, they discovered utter devastation and rubble; ISIS had smashed icons and churches, graffitied altars and pews, burned crosses and removed any indication Christ was king of the small town.  

"We also found charred pages from a Bible. I picked up a section that contained John 20:27." Graham says.  

The passage describes Jesus' reappearance to the disciples after His resurrection. He tells Thomas to "Put your finger here, and look at My hands. Put your hand here and place it in My side. Do not be faithless, but believing." 

"My heart goes out to the pastors in this region. Most of their congregations are now dispersed all over the world. As shepherds, they want to be able to help their flocks. They want to be able to care for them and protect them, but until there's a political settlement there's no way this is going to happen. Will you join me in praying for them?" Graham says.

Jessilyn Justice is the director of online news for Charisma. Born and raised in a pastor's family in Alabama, she went to Lee University and the Washington Journalism Center. She's passionate sharing God's goodness through storytelling. Tell her what you think of this story on Twitter @jessilynjustice.

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