FROM R.K.’S CORNER
There is no such element as “darkness”. In fact — darkness does not exist, it is simply the absence of light! When light shines, darkness disappears. It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness. “For in You is the Fountain of Life. In Your Light we see Light!” Psalm 36:9
The above statement depicts the significance of our Arab friend/partner (we have withheld his name due to security reasons) and his wife’s September trip to the Kurdish part of Northern Iraq with relief aid to some of the two million Iraqi and Syrian refugees who are displaced by the terror advances of ISIS. They are overcoming darkness with LIGHT!!
Here is an uplifting trip report from our friends who are making a difference — they are Light-bearers in every sense of the word! I learned about their planned trip only a couple of weeks in advance, so in a hurry, we were able to collect $2,800.00 which we sent with them — 100% of the funds were used toward aid for the refugees! For those of you who donated — THANK YOU!
In November, our friends will again visit the people mentioned in their report, and we will continue to raise funds for the refugees they serve. I urge you to be generous — this is an unprecedented opportunity to demonstrate the love of Jesus in very tangible ways! Please donate on our website either via debit or credit card or your PayPal account, or send us a check in the mail! Please mark your gift: Relief Aid—Refugees in Iraq. Blessings!
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Greetings in the precious name of our Lord and Savior Christ Jesus and in the name of the most Holy, our Father and Almighty God. I pray this letter finds you in the best of health and in the perfect graces of our majestic King.
We recently traveled to Northern Iraq where the Islamic State has attacked and displaced close to two million people. The purpose of our trip was to deliver relief and assistance and to recon the situation to see how we could mobilize the church in America to come to the aid of our brethren and to reach out to the unreached people groups living in the Mosul plain and Kurdistan region of Northern Iraq.
We traveled through Turkey, stayed one night in Istanbul and continued on to Erbil where we met with Ashty Alisha the founder of Zalal Life (Zalal meaning “pure”) which is an NGO operating out of Dohuk, Kurdistan. We asked Ashty to bring us to visit the Christian refugees in an effort to hear their stories and respond with the gifts of God’s people here in America.
Although the refugees were literally everywhere, we visited three refugee communities. Our observation was that the Christian refugees lived outside the city in outlying areas, while the Muslims and Yazidis congregated in the center of the city. Dohuk is a city with a population of one million; approximately 500,000 live in the city center, the other half live outside the city proper. The population of Northern Iraq is around five million and is approximately 96% Muslim, 3% Christian and 1% Yazidi and other religions.
The Christian population consists mainly of traditional Armenian, Chaldean, Roman Catholic, and Greek Orthodox churches. The evangelical church is small, but very active and vibrant. The believers endure a significant amount of persecution from the traditional churches. The people of the traditional churches are very much in love with Jesus and willing to die for their faith, but know very little about their faith and put a great deal of stock in what the priests teach. Reading the Bible is looked upon as something only the priest does. Evangelicals are regarded as a cult, therefore not the true church.
The Kurds are very nationalistic. In most cases in Kurdistan, being a Kurd, trumps religious preference. There are exceptions, but the majority of Muslim Kurds are fighting the Islamic State.
The Province of Kurdistan is oil rich and becoming increasingly very modern; it bears all the earmarks of a developing nation. Left to grow, the state of Kurdistan could become a very wealthy, progressive state in a strategic location.
As we visited the Dohuk and Erbil regions we saw very limited evidence of aid reaching the people. We did see UN food trucks, but, contrary to media reports, there were no tent cities. The photographs included here are examples of the living conditions we witnessed.
Many of the Christians are living in schools and unfinished buildings. Several unrelated families are sleeping in the same room with one bathroom. Unsanitary conditions are already causing health problems. There is no privacy for husband and wife. Children are at risk. This situation has no immediate solution.
Even if ISIS left tomorrow, the cities are littered with land mines. Very similar to Afghanistan it will take years to clear the mines. This means that there will be a large resettlement in certain areas for the Christians; this segregation will need to be addressed.
In November, we will be bringing in a team of medical doctors to minister to the overwhelming medical needs in these villages. We will also be gathering the local pastors and leaders to do grief-counseling training and crisis management training to help the local leadership deal with the trauma their people have experienced.
The government has agreed to give land to the refugees. We can build basic block homes with one bathroom, a kitchen, and sleeping area for app. $3,000.00 The homes are small, but will keep the people warm in the winter, cool in the summer, provide privacy, and helping with sanitation. These homes can be erected in less than 30 days.
While these conditions can be said to be horrible by human standards, we see Gods hand all over this situation. Every day there are Muslims and Yazidis affected by this crisis, who are coming to faith in Jesus Christ. This Diaspora of Christians has awakened the church to be the church in a place where it has been traditionally very challenging to share faith. The Evangelical believers who are on the ground have become emboldened to share in ways they never did in the past. There is a harvest taking place that is greater than the harvest of the Gulf war which is reaching people that were previously unreachable.
What I see happening, is not only a trial for Northern Iraq, but a testing for the church in the west. I believe that if we do not respond properly, the apathy and neglect we show towards the church in the Middle East, will bring judgment upon us in the West.
Our prayers, our gifts and our actions are tantamount to the grace we will receive in the coming days. This crisis is an opportunity to demonstrate the grace of the Father which we, in the western church, are commanded to manifest. The displaced people need everything. Some expressed that the children were so traumatized, it would help them if they had something to play with. So we went out and bought soccer balls, dolls, and other toys. The families were deeply grateful to see a smile on their children’s faces.
Our brethren have asked the church in America not to forget them. We told them we would tell their story. We need your help in ministering to the hurting, the lost, and the destitute.
Our plan is to make several trips into Northern Iraq this next year, not only to deliver funds, but to oversee the work the Lord has placed before us. We will make sure the gifts of God’s people get to their intended destination. We will come alongside of our brothers who are laboring on the forefront in this harvest the Lord has prepared.
“Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited me in; naked, and you clothed me; I was sick, and you visited me; I was in prison, and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry, and feed you, or thirsty, and give you something to drink? And when did we see you a stranger, and invite you in, or naked, and clothe you? When did we see you sick, or in prison, and come to you?’ The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of mine, even the least of them, you did it to me.’” Matt 25: 34-40
Thank you for you for your love, prayers and generous gifts. May the Lord richly bless you for your obedience to Him!
Your Brother and Sister in Christ.