This has led to the publication of his new book The Disappearing People: The Tragic Fate of Christians in the Middle East a “beautiful, disturbing, awful story that needed to be told,” according to Thomas Farr, president of the Religious Freedom Institute, and what Gregory Stanton, founding president of Genocide Watch, has called the best book ever written about the genocide of Christians and Yazidis in Iraq.
Rasche has borrowed the voices of those who “continue to face daily crucifixion,” wrote Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah of Sokoto, Nigeria, in his own praise of the book. Their witness to Christ “reminds the world of its sins of omission,” he added, and “this book should be read both as an act of penance and also an offering to God.”
A U.S. citizen, since 2010 Rasche has served as counsel to the Chaldean Archdiocese of Erbil, Iraq, which included the traumatic 2014-2017 ISIS occupation of parts of the Nineveh Plain. He also helped found the Nineveh Reconstruction Committee, tasked with helping Christians return to the region after ISIS was defeated, and has testified on behalf of Iraqi Christians at the United Nations, the U.S. Congress and the European Union Parliament. Before working in Iraq, Rasche worked for 25 years in the field of international business and law.
In this March 19 email interview, Rasche tells the Register’s Rome correspondent Edward Pentin what Iraq’s ancient Christian communities have taught him, what lessons can be learned from tragic missed opportunities to help them, and how the Church — despite the “awful and ugly news” coming from some of its leaders — “simply cannot be replaced.”
What made you write this book?

First, my friends in the Church in Iraq wanted to have their story told in the West and encouraged me to write about it in a way that could make people understand the reality of what the Christians in the East were facing. Second, during the times I spoke in the West about the situation, many of our supporters and sympathizers also spoke to me of the need to document all this and to write about it. Still, I put off doing it largely because we were simply overwhelmed with the actual work in Iraq itself. Having visited with us in Iraq during these times, you know firsthand what our situation was like — how stretched we were.
Finally, though, it became clear that we were nearly out of time and that if the book was ever going to mean anything, it had to be done now, while some small hope still remained — while it could still be a current event and not just historical epitaph.
The Disappearing People has been described as one of the best accounts of the genocide in the Middle East in the 2010s — what kind of new information and anecdotes do you disclose in the book that give a more vivid picture of the challenges Christians have faced there?

Through the Church in Iraq, I was living and working side by side with the people during these years, first in the areas where the displaced were sheltered, then later in the towns as they were recovered and we began rebuilding. This closeness, developed over years of shared experience, allowed for the stories of the clergy and the people to come out in their own voice, in a manner where they could speak honestly about what things meant for them. In the book we worked very hard to let it be in the authentic voice of the Iraqis and Yazidis themselves, and I think, at least I hope, this comes through in a very profound way that is different from so much of the journalistic treatment of this subject so far. And as the reader will see — their voices represent a very different reality than what much of the West might in general suppose, including those within the Western Church and the established international aid community.