Basrah: Almost all here
Six of the nine of us have arrived here in Basrah from Dubai late this afternoon. The uncertainty of arriving in a strange city was soon mitigated by the arrival of our host, Elder Zuhair Fathallah. He managed to talk his way into the secure immigration area and facilitate our quick release from the "holding pen" we shared with about 50 other foreigners. We were delighted to be reunited with our luggage, which had traveled nearly eight thousand miles just to catch up with us-- and nothing was lost! We were soon on the (bumpy, clogged) road back into town, having arrived at the start of the weekend (Friday and Saturday here). After settling into our comfy rooms, we gathered for team time and devotions led by Marilyn. Sharing from 2 Cor. 1:12-20, she focused on Paul's declaration: "for no matter how many promises God has made, they are 'yes' in Christ." Despite decades of wars and sanctions, which have decimated the Church here in terms of numbers, the faithfulness and resilience of the Body of Christ in Iraq gives testimony to a watching world that Christ has not abandoned His bride.
Our jet lagged bodies and spirits were revived at dinner when we had an opportunity to meet the Basrah Church's new pastor, Rev. Magdy Reffat. Rev. Magdy has served here since January, 2013, having been sent here by the Presbyterian Church in Egypt. Having been without a pastor siince 2004, the congregation is energized by this vibrant, winsome young leader.
Tomorrow we look forward to welcoming two more of our group who will be arriving about the same time as the Presbyterian pastor from Kirkuk, who will also join with us. The congregation will gather for worship Friday evening followed by a special dinner to welcome us, friends new and old.
Blessings and good evening from Basrah, The Outreach Iraq Team