Iraq Appeal/Refugee Crisis-June 2016 Update
Let us not become weary in doing good,
for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9
Weariness “not an option” for the Kirkuk Presbyterian Church two years on…
Although the tragic events in Iraq from the summer of 2014 have mostly faded from our daily news cycles, the past is very much present for Rev. Haitham Jazrawi and his congregation at the Presbyterian Church in Kirkuk. It began with a persistent knocking at the church’s gate late one night. It was soon inescapably evident in the streets around town as entire families stood dazed and bewildered, clutching small parcels and, for the fortunate ones, a suitcase containing a few changes of clothing and their important documents. And then the reports soon reached their ears of entire congregations of the Syrian Orthodox Church seeking haven in safer villages not far from Kirkuk….
ISIS had taken Mosul in June 2014 and by August had pressed on into the nearby Nineveh Plain, which was dotted with many small towns. Ahead of them fled tens of thousands of Christians – by car, by bus, on foot – who sought shelter wherever it could be found. More than 70 of them ended up living in the Presbyterian Church in Kirkuk, where every classroom and office became a small apartment. They are all still there. With help from partners like The Outreach Foundation, Rev. Haitham and his church responded to urgent human needs whenever and wherever they could. They encouraged us ecumenically to help purchase a generator for an Orthodox kindergarten started for displaced children and to assist the Catholics who were renting apartments for students from Mosul University who were eager to continue their studies. The ministry of the Kirkuk Church is no less acute, two years later, as Rev. Haitham recently shared:
Down the street from Kirkuk Presbyterian Church was a Pentecostal Church that closed because all of its members had immigrated. This congregation had also taken in several displaced families who now had no one to care for them. Unable to take them in because their facility was already maxed out, Rev. Haitham’s church rented and renovated a house nearby for them and added a third family from the Nineveh Plain who were also in dire straits. The father of one of those families shared his story for us:
As summer sets in, the Kirkuk Presbyterian Church hopes to distribute small refrigerators, mattresses and portable air conditioners to other displaced families around town who are living in fairly raw circumstances. We thank God that our family-in-faith in Kirkuk continues to reach out in Christ’s name and has “not grown weary in doing good.” May our prayers and gifts renew their strength and their resolve.
Associate Director for Partnership Development
To date, your generous gifts to the Iraq Appeal total over $750,000 as well as over $130,00 for the Refugee/Internally Displaced Persons Appeal. Your prayers and partnership have brought help, healing and hope to thousands of (mostly Christian) Iraqis who have been internally displaced as well as for those who are refugees in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. 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. Gifts for the Iraq Appeal or Refugee/IDP Appeal may be made by clicking HERE or by mailing a check to our Franklin office.