The Power of the Gospel in Iraq
April 17, 2014
Christian Aid Mission assists a Middle East ministry that provides emergency aid and gospel materials to Syrian refugees in Iraq and Jordan.
Rasha* was four months pregnant when she came to a refugee camp in Iraq. The distraught woman was injured and had burns on her face. She couldn’t eat or sleep. When gospel workers visiting the camp ministered to her, they learned the reason for her grief. Her husband, father, and two brothers were all killed in Syria—on the same day.
The workers shared Rasha’s story of unimaginable loss with other believers and many people began praying for her. Although no one could erase her pain, those who visited lifted her spirits and encouraged her to focus on the blessing of the new life growing inside her.
Baby Farah brought her mother renewed joy.
As a Muslim, she thought of Jesus as a prophet, but when caring Christians told her He was so much more, she needed proof. They gave her a Bible and pointed her to the gospels. Rasha was stunned as she read about God’s love and His gift of salvation through Jesus.
“If everyone in my country of Syria had this book, we never would have had to go to war or fight each other,” she told one gospel worker.
Rasha kept reading. She realized she was not alone, that Jesus could give her hope and peace if she received Him as her Savior.
The prayers of the gospel workers were answered. Rasha committed her heart to Christ and asked Him to be Lord of her life.
Another prayer was answered a short time later. Rasha’s baby—a girl—was born last summer in the camp. Rasha named her Farah, which means “joy.”
Now the happy mother loves to recite her favorite Bible verse to express gratitude for what the Lord has done to restore gladness in her heart. “He has given me ‘beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness’” (Isaiah 61:3), she declares. Rasha is a great testimony to her neighbors and friends.
Her story also greatly encourages the gospel workers who do their best to meet a myriad of needs at Syrian refugee camps in Iraq and Jordan. Since the refugee crisis began three years ago, the Iraq-based ministry has distributed food, clothing, heaters, and other emergency aid to refugee families.
But gospel workers saw another pressing need that was not being met—the opportunity to read the life-changing truths found in the Bible.
“Each Syrian refugee gets a Quran for free as a gift from King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. It is an attempt to encourage refugees to cling to their Islamic faith,” said the ministry leader. “So it is our duty as believers to provide the true Word of God to this multitude who live in a big prison, boxed in and away from the outside world.”
As part of a Christmas blitz project, the ministry stepped up its Bible distribution efforts in December and January. Gospel workers handed out 18,000 New Testaments, children’s Bibles, and gospel tracts with the message of salvation in three languages.
Conditions are difficult for refugees living in overcrowded camps.
“A huge number of Syrians asked for the Bibles,” said the ministry leader.
Not everyone can read, however, so the ministry is using another medium to help refugee families hear the gospel—radio.
Due to safety concerns, as well as a lack of transportation, most refugees cannot travel to a church or attend public Christian gatherings. But the good news can be brought to them via Christian radio stations and programs.
“The camps are mostly in the desert. They can’t leave their place, so we deliver Bibles and radios to them,” he said. “That is much easier than taking them long distances to churches, and this will help them to learn more about the Lord and grow in their faith.”
With the radios, which cost $5 to $10 each, a family can access more than 10 Christian AM and FM stations and tune into preaching, gospel music, and talk shows.
During the Christmas season the ministry gave out 1,032 radios.
“They rejoiced to receive the radios. Although some have TV’s and free satellites, a larger number of them are cut off from the outside world and do not have anything,” the leader said.
Children’s outreach is another important facet of the ministry, and youngsters were delighted when gospel workers had something special for them, too—their very own illustrated Bibles.
The distribution of children’s Bibles has not been limited to refugee camps. A group of men and women from a church in Iraq rejoiced when God opened the door for them to hand out Bibles at an elementary school in the area in December.
According to the ministry leader, they had prayed for years for an opportunity to give children’s Bibles to students at this school. The administrator always refused their request. But in October the school administrator called them, asking that a team from the church come during Christmastime to tell the children about the meaning behind the celebration. He asked them to give Bibles and small gifts to the youngsters.
Praise be to God, the administrator was true to his word and welcomed the church team when they arrived at the school two months later. They handed out children’s Bibles and gifts to 150 boys and girls. The team also gave a 10-minute gospel presentation entitled “Who was the baby Jesus and why was He born?”
One 11-year-old girl paid close attention to the part of the story in which team members shared the Apostle Peter’s message that Jesus “went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with Him” (Acts 10:38).
A distribution of children’s Bibles
“Jesus still heals and does miracles,” the speaker told the gathering.
After the presentation, the girl walked up to the speaker and inquired if Jesus could heal her sick mother, who had been paralyzed for a year.
A team visited the child’s home, where they met her two younger sisters, her father, and her mother, who was lying on a bed. They told the family about Jesus Christ and gave them a Bible.
The little girl’s prayers for healing for her mother were answered in a way that she did not anticipate. Although her mother has not regained use of her legs, she has begun a new walk with the Lord. All of the other members of the family have also surrendered their lives to Christ.
In the midst of terrible human suffering, the Iraqi ministry is seeing the gospel heal the hearts of men, women, and children—one life at a time—and give them hope, comfort, forgiveness, and joy.
Already hundreds of people have received Christ, according to the ministry leader, as a result of gospel workers who are visiting the camps, door-to-door evangelism in neighboring communities, and believers who have invited refugees to house churches.
“The Word of God, the love of Christ, and salvation are abundant and strong in times of distress. Chaos and turmoil will upset mankind, causing hearts to search for God and the Savior,” he said. “We need your prayers for the souls that are saved, and we need your continued support so we can continue to preach Jesus Christ and lead sinners to Him.”
Christian Aid Mission provides ongoing assistance to the Iraqi ministry for the purchase of evangelistic materials, food, blankets, and medicine. The ministry reaches out to Muslims in Iraq, Jordan, Syria, and Egypt, proclaiming the good news to both refugees and nationals in displacement camps, towns, and cities throughout the region.
* name changed