The biggest challenge most Americans face (besides the obvious prepping our grills for summer), is keeping up with Presidential tweets and movie updates. Then there’s the media news from overseas. Baffling. Overwhelming.
You, like so many Americans we know, probably do care about the refugee crisis in Iraq and Syria, but have found it challenging to respond. Who is effective? What is the best way to help? Who receives the aid? In this month’s issue, we’re focused on exactly what our relief aid looks like, including firsthand refugee accounts.
Since 2014, many of our Indigenous Ministries family have responded with prayers and generous gifts enabling us to help many. Thank you; together we’ve helped many thousands of refugees. Unfortunately, the need for relief aid continues to grow; again we appeal to you for help.
UN Secretary General Guterres, recently stated that only 8% of the UN operations in Iraq are funded. Yet these operations meet the needs of more than three (3) million displaced (read: refugees) Iraqis. While this is disconcerting news, the underlying unseen event is the opportunity we have as the Body of Christ to help many in their ultimate time of need.
We work directly with the local Church to bring relief aid and the healing message of hope and forgiveness in Christ to refugees. The Church also brings community and fellowship…something that truly becomes a big need in the refugee camps later on. What are some of the situations our teams are faced with when they visit refugees and how are we responding to the needs? Here are three families’ accounts – each one has fled being 2 1/2 years under ISIS in the last few months:
A family with mother, 68 (her husband died) and her two adult daughters with their children. One daughter’s husband was killed by ISIS, the other daughter’s husband left. There are no men in this family for protection; a man living in the same refugee camp has been threatening the women and little girls. Our team has reported this situation to the camp authorities (they are most likely going to be relocated, and the man put on a watch list), helped with food, clothing and counseling.
Another family shared that when ISIS came through and displaced them, the father died of cancer in a refugee camp. Shortly after that the mother also died of cancer leaving four children. We have helped with food and clothing; the children have temporary care. Our teams will keep monitoring this situation.
We also work with a mother (her husband died) who has been struggling with severe depression because her 3 year old daughter, pictured on the left, was taken by ISIS in 2014. Our team has gotten her counseling and helped with food, clothing and other personal needs. See the next page for more.
We continue to be the hands and feet of Jesus to the refugees in Iraq and Syria. Here’s how your donations are helping:
Clothing – When they hear the lull in gunfire on their street, refugees just run out of their front door and into a waiting transport bus. They are then taken directly to refugee camps to begin their new existence. Can you imagine how you would handle this? Most have only the clothes on their backs, so our teams provide inexpensive clothing and shoes for family members.
Counseling – After assessing the needs, our teams bring in qualified counselors to help refugees. This is where you can pray. Pray for healing, for comfort. Pray that the Scriptures given will be received, and that our pastors will be able to also be an encouragement in the days to come.
Children – Let’s not forget that kids are kids. Our packets of aid include small toys, crayons and coloring books for the little ones, and a book or suitable toy for the older ones.
Backpacks & Uniforms – School starts up in September and we are preparing once again to equip refugee kids for school. Each backpack will include pencils, crayons, pens, paper, glue, etc.
Literacy – Beautiful International Women’s Ministry is currently helping 100 Yazidi widows in northern Iraq with English literacy, relief aid and counseling.
PLEASE DONATE GENEROUSLY TO THE IRAQ RELIEF FUND ON OUR WEBSITE.
YOUR HELP IS NEEDED MORE THAN EVER BEFORE.
Thanks to the generous donations of our IM donors and quick action of our construction team, the campus is now completely enclosed by a fence, pictured on the right, and five new solar lights have been installed. We’re very grateful to the Lord and to each one who responded. As a result, this has brought a much higher level of security to the students, children and staff. The new school year begins in July. Pray for the staff as they prepare for the students.
The flood of families that are streaming out of Mosul are bringing with them horrific accounts of forced conversions to Islam, from their traditional Christian faith. Subsequently, once forced to convert, most have been monitored by ISIS (the Islamic State) to watch their attendance at local mosques.
I sat with a 17 year old boy who, along with his mother, had been captured by the Islamic State in 2014 and taken to Mosul. He was imprisoned several times, beaten repeatedly and forced to put on a suicide vest with a remote detonation device. I encouraged him to find comfort in the Word of God, and he turned to me and said, “Jesus is no longer my god!” This may seem surprising to hear, but when someone has lived under that extreme pressure and in fear for their life, it isn’t a unusual reaction.
So what is our response? Exactly what we as a ministry are engaged in; to meet some of the physical needs of their lives as the Lord brings opportunities. I was recently reading in the book of Acts as the Church in Antioch began to care for and bring relief to the Church in Jerusalem in the midst of a famine. The council of Jerusalem recognized that the giving of the Church in Antioch was evidence of the validity of their salvation; and they were the first to give in the midst of their own suffering.
The day this family left Mosul, coalition forces were fighting street to street. When the battle line passed over their house, their home was finally released. Iraqi forces came to their front door, and under the pressure of the exchange of gunfire they were taken to a troop carrier. Now the transformation from refugees in the middle of Islamic State control to a refugee family just outside that control has gone from one nightmare to another, and despair has taken hold. The local Church provided a place for several refugee families to live, but now there is mistrust between them and the background Christians because they changed their religious status.
This is an opportunity for us who are the Western Evangelical Church to reach out with the Love of the Lord Jesus Christ. Remember the Lord Jesus said in Matthew 25:35 & 36, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me…” (NIV)
This photo, right, is of a girl who, along with her family, was captured. She was six years old at the time and she’s nine now and is proudly standing next to the clothes and toy that you’ve help provide for her. The $125 that was spent to clothe the whole family has been a big blessing to them. Thank you for reading this, for praying, and for your caring heart.
With Grace Bible College’s new school year starting in July, the need to complete the library building is pressing. The funds needed to complete the building with paint, roof, fans, lights and student desks:
In March, we asked for $22,000 for the building and the costs to ship the books from California over to India. We received some funds to cover shipment and some of the building costs, and have added in the costs of the desks to this amount. We don’t want to confuse you! (Note: this amount does not include the library shelves)
Gloria, left, (Principal Pramod and Grace’s daughter) and Dee model the desks that have been selected for the students. They are comfortable, (yet not so comfy as to induce an ill-timed snooze) yet sturdy, and we felt the desk part gives plenty of space for books and note taking…and there’s a nice shelf beneath for books.
Let’s help get these students ready for the new 2017-2018 school year, which begins the first week of July, by getting the building completed and desks purchased! Please donate towards this need in the click the “Donate” button and choose “GBC Building Fund” in the drop down menu.
One desk = $30
That’s 10 people @ $1000, 15 giving $500, 20 @ $250, 20 @ $60 and 50 @$30
Where can you help? Every little bit really helps; thank you!
Sitting on a rain-soaked muddy field stands a refugee camp that many now are forced to call home. The tension in the small temporary caravan was hard to miss as we walked inside. It was a family of a mother in her 70’s, her two sons, their wives and children and a daughter. When asked for their names, the two men were visibly shaken, demanding that there would be no information given, no names, no photos, nothing. The fear was evident.
This is the essence of the new wave of refugees coming out of Mosul who have been under ISIS control for 2 1/2 years.
We found out that when Qaraqosh fell in 2014, the family tried to escape to Erbil, but the Islamic State captured them, and sent them to prison in Mosul. They were forced to convert to Islam. They were forced to put their foot on and spit and curse on a picture of both Jesus Christ and Mary.
Islamic State required that the men work for them for some time. They were pressured to attend Mosques; a sign that their conversion was genuine. They were reported to the IS intelligence for miscellaneous infractions and followed off and on. For over two years they hid in an abandoned home, only going out to purchase food. To escape, this family, like so many thousands others, ran from their home with their little children and a few hastily gathered personal things to the safety of a troop carrier. All this, as bullets and mortars fell around them.
The oldest son could not take it any longer and stormed out to the front door to light a cigarette. As the discussion went back and forth, I quietly walked out and sat next to him as he tried to make the most of his smoke break. I told him that I cared for all that he had been through, that I would pray for him; that Christ was a friend who would never leave him.
Prior to 2014, he and his family had called themselves Christian yet they and many like them actually know nothing of a personal relationship with the Lord. What a confusing situation, spiritually speaking, but, like many other refugees, they are now open to care and want to hear the Truth. Our visit was followed up by our national team and two pastors who visited he and his family and shared with them a personal relationship with Christ. They also shared food baskets and clothing which were provided through Indigenous Ministries by you, our donors.
RELIEF AID DISTRIBUTIONS: Thank you! Indigenous Ministries is able to continue helping refugee families like this because of your prayers and support. How exactly are we doing this? By providing food baskets, clothing, heating fuel, and other items once our team determines the needs. In the photo, left, you can see the contents of a typical food basket that John and Dee and team distributed to refugees (photo, right) at the church in Iraq last month. We worked with the pastor to give out 50 baskets that day. Our team continues to visit refugees in camps, sharing the love of Christ and meeting physical needs with relief aid. Thank you for caring; this is a critical time for so many there.
In February we had the privilege of being with these kids in our Children’s Home. Our US team we brought with us (see March The Liaison) loved the warm welcome ceremony filled with joyful dances, songs, memory verse recitation and prayers.
A few days later, as the evening breezes gently blew over the campus, we walked into the dining hall where all the children sat quietly waiting for us. Over the next three days we helped them make a colorful memory verse craft for themselves. Then they colored beautiful Easter drawings. We all enjoyed this time very much!
You may have heard that the Indian Government is shutting down Christian NGOs in India. This is keeping many organizations like our Children’s Home from receiving outside funding. Many large groups like Compassion International have been barred from further effective work.
We have been working tirelessly to keep this from happening; we should have a final answer from the government by June. Please pray for this urgent need.
The faces of the children who have been helped over almost two decades come to mind, as they have grown up and some have their own children. God has blessed the hard work of both our Indian staff led by Rev. Himmat and Mercy Mohod, and the US staff. The sacrificial gifts of sponsorships from so many here in the US through the years have empowered the ministry and we give the Lord the glory for it all.
If you are a sponsor, Sarah Rieger will continue to keep you updated. Please contact our office with any questions.
We were delighted to be invited to attend the Graduation and Awards Ceremony at Promise Land Christian School at Payatas, Quezon City. Two of our sponsored kindergarten students graduated with top honors.
In addition, the first top 10 ranking in their individual grades from Kindergarten 1 to Grade IV were our sponsored students. Of the total 50 sponsored students, 21 of them finished strong, meaning that 40% of our students are high scholastic achievers!!
This tells us that parents who scavenger in a dumpsite and their children can’t and shouldn’t be defined by their circumstances. They just need to be afforded opportunities for better education and mentoring to make wise choices. And definitely there is such gratitude and joy written all over the faces of both students and their parents as they experience God’s daily faithfulness and provision to each and every need. God took all the praise and worship!!! – Resty & Mel Enguerra. Read their entire newsletter on IM’s website under “about us/our team/meet our team/the Enguerras.
Eight weeks after sailing from San Francisco on February 7, the library books have arrived on campus! We praise God for this victory a very special and hard won step forward.
Thank you for your prayers; the in-clearing in India went well, and there were no hiccups at all – amazing!
Once the library room has been painted and furnished, the books will slowly make their way upstairs, but for now they are being carefully stored in a new classroom.
Thank you for celebrating this significant victory of getting this library ready for the students to use soon! Dr. Tantarpale expresses to each of you his deepest appreciation for the donations, and efforts given in order that this library would be brought to the students. We will continue to keep you updated on the library progress.