ORANGEVALE -- A few days after addressing the United Nations in New York about the genocide of Christians in Iraq, a priest from Baghdad brought his message to Sacramento.
Father Douglas Bazi addressed an overflowing crowd Wednesday night at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Chaldean Catholic Church in Orangevale, a visit sponsored by the Catholic Diocese of Sacramento.
Father Bazi described how he survived bomb attacks and a brutal 2006 kidnapping.
"They destroyed my car, they blew up my church on front of me," he explained in a conversation with FOX40 before his speech at the church. "I got shot by AK-47 in my leg. The bullet is still in my leg. And I been kidnapped for nine days. They smash my nose and my teeth by hammer. And they broke one of my back discs."
He shared how the kidnappers released him after nine days when his church paid a ransom, and how he stayed in Iraq, but because of continued persecution from Islamic State extremists, he eventually fled to the Northern Kurdish territory where Christians are safer. There he shelters 400 people who also fled their hometowns.
"To be Christian in Iraq, it's impossible mission," Father Bazi said. "But even so, I'm not actually surprised when they attack my people. I'm surprised how my people are still existing."
The crowd in Orangevale gasped when Father Bazi explained that there were more than 2 million Christians in Iraq before 2003 and now there are less than 200,000.
In March, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry declared what's happening to Iraqi Christians a genocide. Father Bazi hopes more of the world will see it that way. He asks for prayers and support for Iraqi Christians.
"Please talk about our stories. Let the world know what happens to us," he pleaded.