A young pediatrician in Iraq whose parents and sisters accepted Christ told local missionaries that worldwide suffering from COVID-19 was a sure sign that God did not exist.
Just a year out of medical school, Fadhil Jassim* had listened patiently as the visitors told his family about forgiveness of sins by faith in Jesus Christ late last year. He was skeptical when his mother, father and sisters prayed to receive Christ, and he could not help commenting to the workers that the COVID-19 calamity was a strong argument that there was no God, and that healing was found only in science.
Before long his parents were infected with the novel coronavirus, and Jassim gave them some medications, one of the local missionaries said. Two days later their condition sharply worsened, and hours after being admitted to a hospital for intensive care they were put on ventilators.
“They went into this situation for nearly two weeks, they fell into a coma, and the doctors lost all hope that they would survive,” the worker said. “It was necessary for Fadhil to make a decision about it. He tried to weigh everything and spent everything he had to help them, but to no avail.”
Jassim phoned the local missionary, saying, “If you really believe that Jesus is real and He heals, pray for my parents; I have lost hope in science now.”
The worker summoned his house church to gather online and, amid pandemic restrictions on large gatherings, they began to voice prayers over the Internet. Among other supplications, they asked the Lord to intervene to show them His glory, the worker said.
“With the last ‘Amen’ we said, Fadhil called and said, ‘What did you do? My mother’s and father’s lungs started responding, and their consciousness began to return!”
The worker was stunned as Jassim told him science and doctors may provide treatment, but Christ is the One who heals.
“If just one of my parents were cured without the other, I would have said that it was luck,” Jassim told him. “But I encountered another of Jesus’ miracles in my house.”
The local missionary said Jassim now attends online church meetings and is deeply committed.
“The Bible is distributed in the clinic where he treats patients, and he prays with all the visitors, telling them about this miracle,” he said.
More than 16,100 people have died from COVID-19 in Iraq, where more than 1.16 million cases have been recorded and a little more than 1 percent of the population has received one vaccine dose.
In a bid to encourage more people to get vaccinated, authorities reduced a curfew and eased restrictions on May 17, when malls, restaurants, cafes and other public places were allowed to re-open until 8:30 p.m.
Pandemic restrictions forced most church meetings to go online, and for those without access to the Internet, especially the elderly, local missionaries trained household heads to lead their families in worship services, the ministry leader said.
“We feel that this time, when the stay-at-home order was called, strengthened family ties more and helped the church to mature, as every believer prepared his spiritual food by himself,” the leader said. “All the church leaders I talk to have changed for the better and grown in grace. The devil tried to prevent the church from meeting, communicating, and strengthening, but the Lord personally worked in everyone’s life and led him to the best. When the story of this virus ends, our home churches will have doubled in number, at the very least.”
Church meetings were not curtailed in camps for the displaced where local missionaries were working; 12 displaced families put their faith in Christ the last half of 2020, with 64 children receiving salvation through a Bible study designed for kids, the leader said.
While some families left the camps to return home in the battle-scarred country, workers continued providing food, baby food and medicines to about 170 families who remained, including 300 children and about 100 seniors.
“The most important medicines that we bought and distributed were medicines that raised the immunity of children to protect them from diseases and winter viruses,” the leader said.
Knowledge of Christ has brought hope to people with little reason to celebrate – the sick, the disabled, those wounded from anti-government protests or the drive to end occupation by Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists.
Unemployment and low pay in a paralyzed economy sap the will of many in a country where social security and health insurance are non-existent. A policeman in one city found his salary was not enough to provide for his family, and local missionaries who visited him sensed the cloud of failure and sadness in his home.
“The father and mother cried all the time, in rage over their living conditions, but when we shared the gospel and presented Jesus and prayed every week in their house, there was a great joy, trust, and dependence on the Lord,” the ministry leader said. “The father said, ‘I never imagined that my wife and I would smile and rejoice at something anymore, but when Jesus entered our life, He put in us an unnatural joy, as if we were struck by magic.’”
Local missionaries are bringing hope to many such people in Iraq. Please consider a donation today to equip them to bring the love of Christ to hurting souls.
*Name changed for security reasons