September 02, 2014
Straight from the Horse’s Mouth
By Brittany Tedesco
For several weeks now, my thoughts have been consumed with the Iraqi people and what’s happened to them. Especially now that Christian Aid Mission has launched its #HelpLocalIraq campaign, which I explained in last week’s blog post.
The gist: we wire funds directly to four indigenous (local) ministries with workers and contacts inside Iraq, as well as 16 ministries in surrounding countries that are aiding Iraqi refugees.
So what are they doing? What are they seeing? What is a typical day like for them?
Our Middle East Director asked them these questions and more. The answers? Here they are, straight from the horse’s mouth:
(From a ministry working in Kurdistan, Iraq)
Q: Tell me about a typical day in Erbil.
A: During the past few days, many Christian families have been arriving from villages around Mosul to Erbil because they were attacked by the terrorists. They have no relatives or money and are forced to live in public parks or in the gardens of churches around Erbil. Just today, two old men and four babies died.
We met a 28-year-old mother from Qaraqosh who started crying when she saw us. “We lost everything, we have nothing,” she said. “No food, no hope. I don’t have money to buy milk, diapers, or medicine for my daughter. I am so tired and do not have the resilience to continue. I just want to live in peace.”
It’s sweltering here at almost 120 degrees F. We met a 15-year-old boy with kidney pain. He told me, “My family is very sad because they cannot do anything for me. They do not have money to buy medicine for me or take me to any hospital. We lost everything, but I wish to stay alive.”
Our team just delivered 300 meals—bread, various types of beans, and tuna fish—to people huddled in public parks and abandoned buildings.
We desperately need a mobile medical clinic. We hope to refurbish a large van, which would require around $40,000 for the vehicle, supplies, medication, and nurses.
(From another ministry in Kurdistan)
Q: What kinds of people are you helping?
A: We are reaching Muslims with the gospel, but are also helping a lot of displaced Christians. We have a ministry with Yazidis, Shiites and Sunnis, mostly Kurds.
Q: What is the spiritual condition of most Christians? Are they nominal or born again? Do they know the Bible very well? Are they resistant to born again evangelical Christians?
A: Most of the displaced Christians are Catholics, Orthodox, Syriac Church, and Nestorian Assyrians. They don’t know the Bible. They have a basic church teaching that is mostly not biblical. Their churches have warned them to stay away from evangelicals. Before, we faced a lot of resistance, but not now. Their world has been turned upside down, and God is bringing them to their knees. They are open to the gospel and are listening with broken hearts and open minds. The number of saved people is increasing on a daily basis. We’ve stopped counting because there are so many people praying to accept Christ and committing to studying the Bible.
Q: What is your approach to these internally displaced people (IDP)? Is it only food and physical help? What is being done spiritually?
A: Food, medicine, and basic supplies are only tools for us to deliver God’s message. We have no interest whatsoever to only meet physical needs without telling people what their real need is. Every family or individual who receives anything from us will hear a message about the Lord Jesus Christ or get a tract, New Testament, or children’s Bible. We offer to pray for them in Jesus’ name. We also offer Bible studies, and invite them to join a group prayer meeting in a tent.
Q: Are the non-Christians receptive to the gospel?
A: Everyone we are working with now has all the time in the world to listen to us. Especially Muslims, now that they’ve come to realize what real Islam is. They have no problem believing now that Jesus Christ is Lord and Christianity is the way to God.
Q: How have all the IDPs affected Kurdistan?
A: Of course it’s put more pressure on the local government, but they did get the attention of the world and a lot of countries are helping them. The demographic has changed a lot. Kurds are not the majority in Erbil anymore. We all know that this is temporary and we have to get the job done before these people go back to their homes.
(From a ministry working with underground Christians in Mosul, Iraq)
Q: What is happening in Mosul?
A: There were more than 80 MBBs [Muslim-background believers] meeting together in one underground church in Mosul when ISIS infiltrated, and more Christians were meeting in four other locations near the city. Some missionaries have stayed in Mosul, despite the danger, because the “harvest” is too great to leave now. God is moving.
(From a ministry working with refugees in Lebanon)
Q: How many families are you working with now?
A: We’re now caring for more than 100 families who’ve left Iraq for Lebanon. These are all Christians, mostly MBBs. The biggest expense is finding places to rent for all of them.
Please remember to pray for these ministries, living and working in harm’s way for the sake of the gospel. To help them go to christianaid.org/Iraq.