Last month in Iraq over 60 refugee families received food packets as a result of your generous ongoing donations to the Iraq Relief Fund. These are families who do not have children, therefore, are ineligible to receive aid from our Child Sponsorship Program. We were also able to assist with medications and heaters. Please consider a generous gift to this fund, as it was all used last month. Any gifts given to this fund are used directly to bring relief to refugees through our partnerships with local churches.
Baghdad – Last month our US team including three guest pastors, Ken Ford, Mike Lundberg and Jon Campbell spent time in Baghdad meeting with our partnering church, her Pastor Ara, Assistant Pastor Mazin and staff. This church continues to grow with a strategic and impactful ministry to hundreds each month. Her ministry is special; many of her former members are all over the world and some only listen to Christian radio which other ministries in Baghdad are doing an excellent job with because of safety reasons.
This is a church of movement, and what makes this body of Christ unique is her sending power. People come and go from this church for many reasons. But they definitely keep coming and going.
Since 2003, the exodus of Christians from Iraq has been staggering. Estimates vary, but the Christian population in Iraq in 2003 was anywhere from 900,000 to 1.5 million. Now with some 300,000 Christians left in Iraq, many are scattered all over the world, including the US. The emotional and psychological scars born by both groups are evident; many overseas are homesick and long to return. Yet for those who cannot emigrate or choose not to leave, the sparsely attended wedding celebrations and funerals are stark reminders that nothing will ever be the same. The separation and loneliness from broken families and missing friends is only a conversation over cup of tea and a distant look away.
Where does this leave the church? For Pastor Ara, pictured here with John and our US team, the situation is complicated and somewhat of a double-edged sword. Many background Christian refugees who fled to Baghdad (or other areas) escaping violence in their villages at the hands of radical Islamists, attend the church. They are welcomed and attendance grows. These same refugees have significant needs for basics of shelter, food, water and clothing and look to relief organizations and the church for help. The church does what it can to help refugees, builds relationships and as a result, many open their hearts to the Gospel and encounter a new journey of faith. This is wonderful and the testimonies are each very dynamic! The church follows up with discipleship, meaning the very difficulties that hurt them are turned into ministry opportunities and in time, prepare those who will leave for their future assignments from the Lord. Think Acts and how persecution spread the Church.
This church sends her people equipped: some refugees emigrate out of Iraq, others return to their homes. Still others, unable to return home, continue to look to the church for some measure of help. Pastor Ara and the leadership look for ways to care for the poorest families without jobs (elderly, widows, orphans, the handicapped and those in danger) who have very little resources otherwise. Some manage to find jobs. Many become involved in ministry.
Meanwhile, life in Baghdad and in this church goes on: young couples are getting married and starting families, children attend school and AWANA, and youth groups are in full swing with pizza parties and Bible studies. Women meet weekly for Bible studies and prayer, and 12 to 14 home groups meet weekly to study the Bible and integrate new Believers into the Body. The mercy ministry to refugees sustains life month after month. The church’s bookstore attracts Christians and Muslims alike, with resources for seekers on who Jesus is, what the Bible says and how to come to faith.
This is a vibrant and growing Body of Christ whose beauty includes her scars, for she has suffered much with bomb attacks, threats, and a number of this body have been killed. This Pastor and Body of Believers are an example of grace and strength in the fire. To the Iraqi reading this in some area of the world who has had to leave your Iraqi homeland, we love you and pray God’s strength, provision and guidance for you.
Since 2004, Indigenous Ministries’ engagement with this church has revolved around helping with ministering to a war-impacted Christian and Muslim community. We are proud to partner with Pastor Ara and the team in Baghdad. In a few months watch for next steps in this partnership which we are praying over and believe the Lord is leading us into together for His glory.Please use and share this article as a way to pray with knowledge for this body of Believers in Iraq and the joys and challenges they face and that we are privileged to engage in with them.
Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. James 1:12
By Pastor Mike Lundberg
Church on the Hill, Montrose, CO
I had the privilege of traveling to Iraq with John and Dee Cook from January 14-29, 2019. It was a rewarding, eye-opening and life-changing adventure. We flew in to Erbil and met some of IMI’s Iraq staff. Their warmth, consistency, support and faithfulness contributed to our successful trip. We met several of the refugee families in Erbil and were deeply touched by their stories of courage and faith in the face of extreme opposition and heartbreak from losing homes, possessions, jobs and worst of all family members. Some of these were internally displaced Iraqis and others were refugees fleeing the war in Syria.
As a result of their plight, my wife and I have begun sponsoring a young Syrian girl in IMI’s child refugee sponsorship program. Nationals helping IMI in that part of Iraq are making a huge difference as we assisted in the food distribution that was a blessing to the Iraqi families trying to rebuild their homes and community that had been destroyed by ISIS.
We also spent a few days in Baghdad visiting the churches IMI works with there. It was refreshing to hear that all seven of the evangelical churches work together. Since Christians are such a small minority in that city of nearly 9 million, according to 2016 statistics, their unity was inspiring. I also appreciated their passion for their city, culture and especially for Muslim background believers that were attending their churches. They were learning to love their former enemies in practical ways.
I was thrilled to see God working through faithful Iraqi nationals and IMI. As one Iraqi pastor put it, “Our time is now!” I believe it is. God is going to do great things once again in the “Cradle of Civilization.”
By Pastor Jon Campbell
Emanuel Baptist Church, Kinston, NC
My experience in Iraq has and will continue to change me and my worldview for years to come. Despite great evil, suffering, and oppression, God is building his church through many faithful and joyful believers. Their faithfulness to the Lord and their joy in the Lord was overwhelming!
On the other hand, seeing the suffering of the refugees first-hand was also overwhelming. So many people who are in desperate need of the necessities of life. I came away impressed with the passionate commitment of Indigenous Ministries and their whole staff to be personally involved in helping refugee families who have lost virtually everything! I saw the hope that the work of IM is building into people through the generosity of so many people through the grace of God.
By Pastor Ken Ford
Alton Bible Church, Lowell, MI
Words fail me to effectively communicate the situation I observed recently in Iraq. The great need, the deep pain, the abounding opportunity, the astounding work of God in the midst of it all. People literally being sustained by the food distributed through IM child sponsorships and the Iraq Relief Project. People holding on knowing someone far away cares enough to love and support them. Numerous testimonies of those who, through the effective ministry of IM, have come to Christ during this time of crisis. There is so much need I urge you to give more than you think you can. I wish I could express to you the delight to my soul to worship together with those who are the fruit of these labors. I have seen the need as well as the meaningful and effective ministry of IM—they are making a real difference with your partnership. Thank you for being a part of this special ministry and please encourage others to join in this great work.
Your word, Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens.
Your faithfulness continues through all generations; you established the earth, and it endures. Psalms 119:89, 90
In December, the Iraq IM Team held three Christmas parties for the refugee children you sponsor. They also gave out these fluffy animals to each of the children with Scriptures in their own language on a solar powered player. The kids had a wonderful time and were really excited to receive their gifts!
The children can now listen to Bible stories set to music. So many of them tell our team they go to sleep at night with their fluffy friend.
Thank you for helping these families have a special Christmas!
The kids in these pics are in the Iraq Refugee Child Sponsorship Program. Special thanks to our wonderful and talented Smile Team, top, who performed great skits, songs and shared Christ with the kids. Please continue to pray for this vital ministry.
The UNHCR’s figures take the world’s refugee numbers to a staggering 22.5 million. Five million souls have left Syria after seven years of a civil war. One of the areas they are attracted to is northern Iraq. IM’s team helps these refugees as well as Iraqi refugees in Kurdistan and outside of Mosul.
The impact of food distributions in an area where unemployment is 55-59% is vital for families who struggle for stability. School supplies for the children helps to lift burdens from over-taxed parents.
In November, John and Dee Cook joined our Iraq team for a food distribution outside Mosul. As families arrived, parents were visited with, food packets given and to the kids’ surprise and delight, a Christmas craft awaited their small hands; one for themselves, and one for their sponsor. Even Spider-Man (below) showed up and had a great time making a crèche!
With the growth over the last year of this Refugee Child Sponsorship Program, we are delighted to welcome three new team members. Their work with logistics, Bible studies and keeping track of the families has already been a huge asset! Enjoy the pics from this memorable day, and thank you for your continued prayers and financial partnership which the Lord is using. Hundreds more children are waiting sponsorship. If you feel the Lord leading you to become a sponsor like some of our sponsors below, welcome! Visit our website, IndigenousMinistries.org, on the right click “Sponsor a Child.” You and your family are not going out to McDonalds for one time can help feed a family for two months. Wow, that’s impactful. $39/month per child. Thank you.
As of Dec. 1, 2018:
Refugee kids in program: 242
Kids sponsored: 220
The local, national church is the heart of our ministry. Left, John spoke last month in Kurdistan, and as a result of the pastor’s ministry and the Word shared, 28 indicated a decision for Christ. They will be followed up with through the local church pastor and teams. Right, Dee held two women’s meetings, one in a refugee camp and one in the church; both were packed. Thank you for your partnership. Please continue to pray for Pastor Sabre, the church and our IM team members.
Amount needed: $25,000 Already raised: $10,935
This van will enable our Child Sponsorship Team to take supplies to refugee kids and their families in camps and settlements. There is more info available online about this
vital project. If your church would like a bulletin insert, contact our office and we’ll email you one. Donate on our website to this fund on the right side under “Donate.”
School started this month in Iraq and our team has been furiously assembling hundreds of backpacks and buying school uniforms for the kids in our Refugee Child Sponsorship Program. A very special thank you to all who donated so these kids can go to school! Since we have kids coming into the program all year, this fund is always open for more donations.
Actually we can’t think of a better example of how our team will use the van which is currently one of our fundraising projects. Would you pray for our team there as they meet with kids and their families this month? Next month our US team will join them ministering in the refugee camps handing out food packets and more Refugee Trauma Kits. Visit our website to see pictures & videos of this distribution as we add updates.
To sponsor a child in Iraq or Egypt for $39/month, please visit our website or call our office.
Iraq Child Sponsorship Program Update
Refugee kids in program 300
Kids sponsored 205
Also distributed were the Trauma Kits with a 18” plush animal (pictured, right, with one of the boys) with a solar powered player with the Bible in Arabic and Kurdish. They include a booklet with helps for the kids and the emotional trauma they are working through. Last month we shipped over 352 more animals with the Bible and 180 baby blankets. Thank you so much to each of you who have given funds to make it possible for the children and their parents to hear the Bible! Ladies, thank you for all the beautiful baby blankets you’ve sewn!
We have 300 kids in the program with 111 waiting for a sponsor. Would you prayerfully consider sponsoring one of these precious refugee kids and be part of changing a life for eternity? A sponsorship is only $39/month and you can sign up on our website in a jiffy!
$8,900 RAISED TO GET OUR KIDS READY FOR SCHOOL!
Over the past four months we held the annual fundraiser to get our Iraqi and Syrian refugee kids ready for school with fully-equipped backpacks, school uniforms and shoes and socks. Your response has been heartwarming and overwhelming! Thank you!!! To date sponsors, youth groups, VBS kids and our partnering churches have given $8,900 to this fund. This is above the amount of $39/month sponsorship. Now our team is even busier buying all the above and distributing them in the next few weeks. They love it, though, don’t worry! We will feature this fundraiser in our Christmas catalogue and keep the fund going all year for the new kids entering the program, most of whom are coming out of Syria.
PROJECT: 15 passenger van for IM work in Northern Iraq
Amount needed: $25,000. Already raised: $6,100
There is more info available online about this vital project. If your church would like a bulletin insert, contact our office and we’ll email you one. Thank you for being the hands and feet of Christ to these hurting children and their families! You can donate on our website to this fund on the right side under “Donate.”
Kurdistan Iraq – The day broke with clear blue skies and the 111 degree heat soon followed. That afternoon in the week of July 23rd, the IM Iraqi team arrived at a refugee camp for a time of worship, songs and a message from the Word.
Since 2014, the relationship between the church and the camps has been growing. IM has partnered with them both, bringing them together through many relief supplies over the years to several camps including this one. With so many families’ fate still in the balance and nowhere to go, they welcome the friendships, encouragement and the help for their children through the Refugee Child Sponsorship Program.
Pastor Sabri shared about the feeding of the 5,000, and how the faith of the little boy was used by Jesus to bless many. Our faith must be like that of a child, he explained, and then after sharing the Gospel, asked for those who wanted forgiveness for their sins and ask Christ into their lives to stand. Every one of the approximately 125 in the room stood. Men, women and children who live together in this refugee camp found salvation that day.
An hour later as the team called the IM Colorado Springs office to share this news, we were overjoyed! What a day of rejoicing and praise at seeing so many respond to the message! Would you pray with us over their new spiritual journey? The church team is working on meeting with the new believers in Bible study as often as logistics and resources will allow.
This is exactly why we felt God was leading us to start this Refugee Child Sponsorship Program: to engage the national pastors and church in a relationship with refugees together in the Lord.
Are you sponsoring a refugee child? You’re part of this Day of Salvation! Have you contributed towards a Trauma Kit of a plush animal and a solar powered player with the Bible in their language on audio? You’re part of this Day of Salvation! Now these families will be able to listen to the Bible in their own language. Are you sponsoring a national pastor? You’re part of this Day of Salvation!
Jesus Christ came to bring healing and hope to a hurting, broken world. God uses people like you and our teams in Iraq to be the hands and feet of Jesus to these refugee families. Listen, we all enjoy eating out…the cost for two people at dinner now is about $40…or, what it costs for one month of sponsorship. Why not cook at home just one night a month and change a life? The heat is on…we have 160/1000 children sponsored!