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.
Working to help Yazidi widows shape a better and more sustainable future is something we’ve had in our hearts for a while.
Along with the relief aid our Indigenous Ministries team has given them, we’ve launched an English literacy and counseling program to give the women better opportunities for jobs and a healthier personal life. The 100 widows we’re helping have lost their husbands to ISIS and most have children.
Interested in sponsoring a woman? $75 provides English classes and counseling to a widow. Thank you for your care and prayers as our team shares hope in Christ with them. We will share updates next month and on Beautiful International Women’s Ministry Facebook Page and both websites.
Donate on IndigenousMinistries.org, and select Beautiful International Women’s Ministry.
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.
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.
As I was finished speaking last Sunday evening, a young woman, dressed completely in black (obviously a Muslim) entered the church as people were beginning to say their goodbyes. The main Sunday service is on Sunday Night here in Iraq as it is the first day of the work week.
She started to ask questions and people called the pastor’s wife to come and speak with her. I could hear that she was asking for a Bible. I later found out that she was also saying that she wanted to learn more about Jesus Christ. She kept saying, “I want to know about Jesus.”
They got her a Bible and also the “Story of Jesus” on audio player and she was so happy; she actually didn’t want to leave. Then on Tuesday night when the Church holds its Discipleship Bible Study and Prayer Meeting, she showed back up and sat listening to the words of the Pastor as they were working through a course called “Discovering Who Jesus Is.”
This is one of our pastors that we support through our “Global Church Planting Initiative.” I could not help but be thankful for a couple who have committed themselves first to the Lord and then to their country of their birth, Iraq.
All of this is taking place as the battle for Mosul is raging not 60 miles away, which is where this young Muslim woman is from. Every 30 or 40 minutes, two to three helicopters from the US base fly overhead on their way to and from the battlefield, yet in the midst of all this crisis, God is at work reaching those responding to His call.
Again, I would ask, how does a pastor serve or even be supported in a war torn country? For those who are participating in the Global Church Planting Initiative, I want you to know that since we have taken this pastor and his wife on, I have seen them as a couple settled in their hearts and a renewed peace has come over them knowing they have support and security. The Lord and you through IM are their security. Because you help sponsor a pastor, this Muslim woman has a fellow Iraqi who will share with her the way of Christ, the way of forgiveness, and the way of redemption. Pray for her, won’t you?
We have many pastors waiting in the Middle East, India and South Asia to be part of our Global Church Planting Initiative program. If you would be willing, help us with your commitment to Global Church Planting Initiative at $100 or $50 monthly so that we can support them and give them a platform of reaching their own people with the Gospel.
For the past two months, we’ve focused on the rubble ISIS has left behind in Iraq and Syria. As I stated in my last article, the devastation is indescribable and the toll taken on lives is unknown to the fullest extent.
Jesus gave assurance that His body, His Bride, the Church, would endure through centuries of suffering and emerge as the greatest change agent for His purposes on earth. Humanly speaking, many look at the rubble left behind as hopeless, yet we are asking the Lord for the impossible. That out of the debris of war the Church will bloom again and thrive in former ISIS-held areas of Iraq and Syria as a testimony to God’s power to transform lives and heal. Christian Iraqis are praying for a God-fearing Iraq.
National Iraqi pastors are already identifying areas to plant churches as refugees will begin to move back to their former homes in the next two years. Indigenous Ministries will partner and assist with this through our Global Church Planting Initiative.
Over the next few weeks, our US team will be in Iraq working in these areas:
- Church planting; working with existing and planning for new churches * Bringing continued aid to refugees; visiting refugee camps
- Assisting more refugees with micro business start ups
- Launching IM’s new Iraq Child Sponsorship Program for 2500 Yazidi orphans at the request of the Kurdish government in northern Iraq. Sponsorships will be available in April @ $35/month
- Launching IM’s new Beautiful International Program for Yazidi women at the request of the Kurdish government
God bless you for your prayers and financial support as we minister to these precious souls.
India – Dee will be leading a team from US to hold women’s conferences in India and Iraq in the next few weeks. In India, more than 100 local women involved in church leadership will attend each event. These conferences provide an opportunity for Biblical training, encouragement, fellowship and creativity. Special craft kits, which the women really enjoy, have been assembled that will provide a meaningful memento of the event.
These kits are available so you can experience the joy of crafting and participate with the women in thought and prayer. As a thank you for donations of $25 or more to Beautiful International, you will receive a kit, just like the ones being made across the globe.
Iraq – Many of you, our Beautiful Partners, have continued to donate to The Miriam Fund which has been used for the successful rescue of dozens of women kidnapped by ISIS. Next month, Dee will be launching the next phase of our outreach to Yazidi women ravaged by the violence of ISIS, focusing on rehabilitation and English language education for these girls and women. Christian counselors and ESL teachers have been sourced, and as funds become available, we will add vocational training so these woman can rebuild their lives for themselves and their families.
Every month Beautiful focuses on a special theme. Last month we looked at how to utilize our time for God’s glory. This month we’re reminded of God’s True love, not the commercialized version that comes with Valentine’s Day. Follow Beautiful’s Facebook page to read these short, inspirational messages. Search for “Beautiful International Women’s Ministry.”
Thank you for your continued prayers and financial support! Please visit our new website, BeautifulInternational.org, for more information. We would be honored for you to join us and become a vital Beautiful Partner in 2017 with your prayers and gifts.
Pastors, would you like to impact national pastors through teaching at one of Indigenous Ministries’ international conferences? The next openings will be in the Fall of 2017 ministering in India and the Middle East.
Contact our office now for more information and to reserve your place.