Update: Solidarity with Christians in Iraq
Then the King will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me…
Dear Partners in Christ's Mission,
ISIS has driven Christians and other minorities from their homes in the northern part of Iraq and prohibited them from taking anything with them but the clothes they are wearing. Few of us can imagine what it must be like for the thousands displaced by the actions of ISIS. But if we could imagine that, we might be praying mightily that there would be someone out there who has taken seriously our Lord’s injunction found in Matthew 25. And those prayers would have been answered if we had shown up – destitute and despairing – at the Presbyterian Church in Kirkuk.
Rev. Haitham Jazrawi, the pastor in Kirkuk and our strategic partner there, has written us about the outreach ministry of his church. These accompanying photos introduce us to these precious displaced families – most of them from Orthodox or Catholic backgrounds – being ministered to by his congregation:
[Living at the church] there are now 12 Christian families, displaced from villages in and around Mosul; the total number of members of these families is 46 people. One of these families came from Baiji, where the father, Dakran, was an employee at the oil refinery. He had to leave his house, which was in the housing complex of the refinery, due to heavy artillery shelling…he came to us and asked for shelter for him and his wife and three daughters, the oldest being seven years old… Three families were able to bring their clothes and medicines, while the other nine families had only the clothes they were wearing – in fear, they had left everything behind.
Our accommodations are very good: we transferred our Sunday school classes to our poorer rooms and made one of the classrooms into a central kitchen to be used by all. We provided three stoves, three refrigerators and a sink for washing dishes, along with pots of different sizes and quantities of dishes and spoons, glasses and other supplies…. All our rooms are air-conditioned, and this allows everyone to be comfortable when the electricity is on. When it is not working, the church’s generator can supply enough power to run fans….
We will also be putting up curtain dividers in the church hall so that we can receive more families. We have bought mobile toilets…and extra water reservoirs. We purchased a wheelchair for an older woman who is handicapped and who came to us without being able to bring her own.
Psychologically, they were under enormous pressure and we were, at first, hesitant to talk with them [about what they had experienced] because they could not speak without crying. Now they are much better and have improved.
On the spiritual side, they have started to attend our church meetings. Because of the difficult circumstances we are in we are having three prayer services per week (Monday, Tuesday and Thursday) in addition to the Sunday worship service, a ladies’ meeting on Saturday and Sunday School on Friday morning. And, of course, because they have never been in any of the evangelical churches, we find them asking many questions. Many biblical and spiritual truths start blooming for them. They are astonished that we refuse their thanking us but instead direct their eyes to the Lord Jesus Christ and tell them that God has created us in this place to serve them – we are only the servants of the Lord and what we do, we do to glorify the name of our Lord Jesus. The fact is that this is an opportunity to tell them, through what we do with them, about the love of Christ, the passion of Christ and the victory of Christ.
In the aftermath of the mass exodus of Christians and other minorities from Mosul and surrounding villages, your generous gifts – totaling $130,000 to date – have strengthened the hand of our partners there by helping them to minister to the displaced persons with food, water, medicine, shelter and spiritual counseling. Our solidarity with the Presbyterians of Iraq has also greatly encouraged them as they are reminded that they are not alone in these difficult circumstances.
The Outreach Foundation will continue to receive gifts in support of our major Iraqi partner, the National Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Iraq, as well as several other Christian partners in the region. Checks should be noted “Iraq Relief” and mailed to The Outreach Foundation, 381 Riverside Drive Suite 110, Franklin, TN 37064. You can also give online at www.theoutreachfoundation.org by selecting Iraq Appeal under the Designation button.
Associate Director of Partnership Development