Shell-Shocked Iraqi Refugees Receive Love of Christ

September 25, 2014

Fleeing their home physically and emotionally exhausts Iraqi refugee children.

With tears in her eyes, an Iraqi mother trembled as she told a ministry director of the incident that drove her from Iraq to Jordan.

“One of her relatives was sitting outside in her home garden with her two babies, when suddenly out of nowhere a missile landed and exploded, tearing them all apart right before her eyes,” said the ministry director. “It was a horrific scene. She mentioned how she and other members had to collect their body parts and bury them.”

She and her family then fled to Jordan, while under attack throughout the entire journey, he said.

“They made it safely, but they have nothing with them - only the clothes they were wearing that day,” he said.

Given the choice of either converting to Islam or leaving everything they had worked for, refugees fleeing the terror of the Islamic State (ISIS) continue to stream into Amman and Zarqa in Jordan, to Erbil in northern Iraq, and into Lebanon. During one three-week period, 700 Iraqi Christians entered Jordan, the ministry director said. Nine different church centers in the two Jordan cities have ministered to their needs.

“Almost all of them do not have clothes for now or for the winter season,” he said. “Many of them needed basic items for their children, such as diapers and personal hygiene items. Many needed medicines that they could not afford to buy.”

The locally-based ministry, assisted by Christian Aid Mission, worked with area churches to help meet their needs.

“They were invited to eat a hot meal by another church,” the director said. “So we prepared boxes of clothes, enough for 170 people, specifically winter clothes, for people of all ages, so that they would at least have a long sleeve shirt and a coat to keep them warm. Children also received teddy bears and toys as presents.”

Through face-painting, ministry workers provide a happy respite for Iraqi refugee children.

In August Iraqis fleeing Mosul and other cities to Erbil, in the northern region of Kurdistan, began settling in public parks around churches or in the garden areas of the church properties.

“Many Christian families have been arriving from the villages around Mosul to Erbil, because the ISIS attacked these villages and took it all. The situation of these families is very terrible right now,” the director said. “Two old men and four newborn babies have died.”

Once successful, hard-working people, the Iraqi refugees are well-educated people trying to make the best of a bad situation. "As a result of this exile, men and women have lost everything they ever worked for, whether it was money, cars, homes and even businesses,” the director said. “Even the children have lost their basic right to education. We served them a hot meal and drew a smile on the children´s faces by doing some face painting.”

The ministry is providing water, mattresses, medicine, tents, bread and thousands of cans of bread, beans, fish and cheese. More is needed. During one two-week period, the ministry provided family food baskets for 450 displaced families. Each basket included a New Testament, a children´s Bible, and a gospel tract in Arabic, Aramaic and Kurdish languages.

None of the refugees has any hope of returning to their homeland.

“As one young man said, ‘I would have never thought of leaving Iraq, and now we have no place to go back to – no home, no business, no schools and no cars.”

The future is unclear for nearly all the refugees; they do not know where they will go or what will happen to them.

“Some wish to leave Jordan and start a new life elsewhere, while others do not want to leave and hope they can build a new life here,” the director said. “Until they are able to make decisions, they need our help and support to live a somewhat normal life.”