Presbyterian Good Shepherd Primary School in Baghdad
Imagine trying to live a normal life while terrorists wreak havoc and fear around you. That was what life in Baghdad, Iraq, has been like since 2012. It particularly affected the children. School was inconsistent and playing with friends outside was terribly unsafe.
But through it all, the Baghdad Presbyterian Church persevered. They tried to make life “normal” for their congregants and community. Church and Sunday School classes continued through the terrorism of the past few years. Church activities were held when possible. Hope was to be found in the church and its pastor, Rev. Farouk Hammo. One of the most uplifting ministries was their preschool and kindergarten programs. What makes it uplifting is the journey the school went through during that time and continues to pursue.
In 2009, the church purchased a plot of land nearby. The land had a house on it and enough room for new construction. In 2011, two buildings were constructed for the preschool and kindergarten. Leaders had plans to use the house for future school expansion. The school didn’t take long to be a success with more than 100 children enrolled. As only our Lord can do, just five of the 100+ children were Christian. The balance came from Muslim families in the neighborhood looking for quality education.
But later in the year, ISIS made a strong surge in Iraq and the security situation in Baghdad disintegrated quickly. Plans for expansion were halted when the vacant house was confiscated and overtaken by terrorists. But, with God’s safekeeping, the preschool and kindergarten continued to operate even when the terrorists were occupying the nearby house.
The good news is that life in Baghdad is improving, security is more stable, and lifestyles are returning to normal. The terrorists occupying the house were driven out, although they stripped the house of fixtures and willfully damaged the interior. Undaunted, school leaders renewed their expansion plans. The plans for the house were to start a primary school. The idea came from parents of the children. Here’s how Rev. Farouk described the genesis of the project, “Parents, over the past years, have urged us to open a primary school, as they noticed changes in their kid’s lives – attitudes, behaviors and ways of communicating.”
Their plans are turning to reality as renovation of the house for the primary school has begun. The Outreach Foundation and its partners are providing funds for the project, and we invite you to join this joyful effort. CLICK HERE to make a gift online, designating it to Baghdad School, or send your gift to our office.
The “backstory” is another of God’s making. Rev. Farouk and the elders of the Baghdad Presbyterian Church do want children in the community to have a good education. But because 96% of the children in the school are not Christian, Rev. Farouk saw the primary school opportunity as an evangelistic effort. “We decided to create this project that attracts people to come to us,” said Rev. Farouk. “We shall share the Gospel with them and lead them to Christ. This is our opportunity to change kids that will redefine the next generation. As we share our Christian ethics and virtues and the Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, changes will be made upon their life. As we will influence these kids for 8-10 years, they will become pillars in the kingdom of Christ – new leaders in this society.”
Praise be to God for strong, courageous and obedient followers like Rev. Farouk.