I turn 45 on August 20 and I’ve decided to do a little something different this year.
No gifts for me. I’m trying to raise funds for some wonderful people I’m pleased to call friends in Iraq. It’s my $450 for my 45th goal.
Back in January of 2016 I had the privilege of traveling into Iraq in the northern Kurdish region.
The KRG (Kurdistan Regional Government) area of northern Iraq is a unique place within Iraq. Situated just to the east of the areas that ISIS controls yet (including Sinjar, Mosul, Qaraqosh, and more), Kurdistan has absorbed since 2014 over 100,000 IDP’s (Individually Displaced Persons / internal refugees) that have had to flee their homes when ISIS came into those regions.
What’s the Situation in Erbil, Iraq
- Thousands of displaced people who fled ISIS are being cared for and their needs provided for in Erbil, Duhok, and surrounding regions
- Churches like the Christian & Mission Alliance Church of Erbil are mobilizing support and distributing supplies from global organizations
- Families and individuals who fled Mosul, Sinjar, and Qaraqosh are finding hope and renewed life in Christ
- God is creating a revived missionary movement among Jesus followers who fled and are in Kurdistan trying to discern where they go to next
- Thousands are being discipled and equipped while living in Kurdistan who will ultimately be that mission force going out across the Middle East, Europe, and beyond as they find new homes and places to settle in
- God used the ISIS crisis in many lives to sharpen the faith and alter the calling of many into more of His ministry in the region
- Those who have been displaced are finding hope as they serve others
Case in Point: My Friend Saad
One of my favorite things about visiting was hearing people’s stories.
It was both a joy and also painful to hear what they have endured.
My heart hurt and I wept as I heard stories of horrible decisions needing to be made about fleeing. They had to immediately drop and leave behind everything, including businesses, jobs, bank accounts, possessions, homes and sometimes less than 60 minutes to find family and flee with 10-12 people in a car before ISIS came into their community.
I had the opportunity to hear one story from my friend Saad that I can share with you.
Saad is a young man from Sinjar who was in graduate school in Sinjar. He was in the molecular biology field and had hopes of being a university professor. His family and their community knew that ISIS was getting close but yet they held out hope that they would be able to remain. One morning, however, a neighbor knocked frantically and told them that they must flee as ISIS was coming in now and that they were killing those who would not submit to their form of Islam.
Saad, his parents, brothers, and the rest of their family had 30 minutes to gather, load into a car altogether and flee. He’s never been back.
Listen to Saad tell his story:
The amazing part of the story is not just the escape, it’s that Saad is not angry.
He’s not, and in fact he is full of joy! It’s a joy that comes from Jesus and is not human-made.
Firsthand account of my new friend Saad and his family who had to flee Sinjar in Iraq when ISIS came in. They had about 30 minutes notice. This was taped in Erbil, Iraq.
Saad was a Christian before all this occurred but was on his own path of professional development to be a professor. Since leaving everything and needing to flee he has been changed.
In Erbil, under the discipleship of the Erbil CMA church he has felt a clear leading to work in ministry. He wants to attend seminary and study theology with hopes of becoming a pastor.
Right now he is serving. He coordinates humanitarian aid from agencies through the church to IDP’s in great need across Kurdistan. While I was there, I had the joy of accompanying his team from the church to give out heaters to a community in the mountains north and just a little east of Mosul.
Saad is a story of the hope of Christ overcoming the evil of ISIS. He has a life calling clear and he is serving even now in any way he can.
You can Help!
I’m raising all I can in my $450 for my 45th drive to help them out. If you want to stay with my 45 theme you can give $45 or even $4.50! As of writing this I’m over the $400 mark and heading towards the goal with a couple days left yet.
Want to celebrate my 45th by helping me help some great people? Consider a gift.
Region Being Transformed
Erbil is a city on the move! Erbil was able to bring in hundreds of thousands of displaced people and continue to provide services and expand as city.
Everywhere you looked you saw buildings going up, highways being built, on and off ramps being added to the interstate highway system and new communities under development. The capital of Kurdistan, Erbil, is a stable and rapidly growing city of well over 1 million people. It has absorbed so many people from those fleeing ISIS controlled areas and also those fleeing the dangers of Baghdad. It’s a tremendous mix of “old” and “new” coming together with the ancient Citadel being the foundation of “old” and new western style malls and stores being the “new” that is coming in.
Here’s some pictures of the building and infrastructure in Erbil.
What stands out to me is that Erbil is in place just for “such a time as this.” It’s a haven and safe place where many displaced persons and families are finding new life. With ministry happening like I saw through the Erbil CMA church and their body, people are being cared for and helped. With no regard for whether those in need are Christian, Muslim, or other, the church is being the hands and feet of Jesus to provide for physical needs of food and shelter as the ministry agent of many relief organizations. What we are giving through supporting the Grace4Iraq work of Grace Community Church is being used well and with lasting results.
In addition to material support the body of Erbil CMA church is ministering to the heart and soul. They are doing outreach, they are discipling, and they are loving people.
I witnesses time and again great stories of care, and stories of those who were once IDP’s themselves now serving and helping their fellow brothers and sisters. It was powerful.
I say the setting in Erbil is “such a time as this” because many hundreds and thousands of those being cared for and discipled now will ultimately move on. They will get visas to settle in other nations in the Middle East, Europe, and North America. They are a unique missionary force that has been discipled and formed through this difficult time of ISIS and yet have been transformed and are now extending the love of Christ across the region. Amazing!
I’m thrilled to have sat with them, thrilled to call them friends, and thrilled that I have the opportunity to be a small part of their lives.
The ongoing needs are great and ongoing support to help families as they try to find their “what is next” is essential.
You can give through iGive Global and all proceeds will be given to these wonderful resources making a difference in the lives of so many in need. Give to Help in Iraq >>