Highlights: Last month was a busy month in Iraq with the ministry. First, we’re excited to announce that the Indigenous Ministries office in Kurdistan is complete. John and our team found just the right amount of new and used furniture along with office supplies for use. Next, additional staff was hired for administrative and video work and intensive training went on for days. A special joy was a large food distribution at one of the refugee camps, and John and Dee met with refugee families under our sponsorship. There were four women’s meetings held. The men of the church had a BBQ fellowship where John spoke. There were meetings with ministry teams reviewing past projects, working on current projects and planning future direction together. There were times in prayer together, times around the Word as John preached, and of course we ate good Iraqi food together celebrating the Lord’s goodness.
Refugees return to a war zone: It was, however, visiting the areas where refugees are going back home, that was one of the toughest sights to see. Street conditions range from half decent to horrible dirt roads with holes. Post-war debris of burned out cars, tanks, building rubble, pipes and other miscellaneous junk lay piled up outside of town, and the schools and buildings that are operational look bleak. Out of every 10 homes, 4-6 are either totally destroyed, greatly damaged or deserted. For those with resources, the reconstruction is going well; there are big piles of sand, rock and building supplies in the driveway and street. But for the majority, it’s not going so well. Many people will never return; they simply don’t have the heart or desire to. Others don’t have jobs or resources to rebuild. But, there are some who are doing both.
How long until normal is restored? Life in these neighborhoods is slowly coming back online with the sounds of backpack ladened children chattering together walking home from school. Dogs bark and women hang up clothes, and neighbors chat in the streets. The outside farmer’s markets, once massive and a supply channel for the large city of Mosul, struggle to supply locals with what they need now. This is farm country, and we met with one of the residents who had joined our church plant after fleeing ISIS with his family in 2014, living in refugee camp in Erbil. Recently he and his family moved back to their home town. He took us five miles outside of town to his verdant green farm plot. Straddling overgrown rows, he picked armloads of sizeable onions, peas, carrots and cabbages, which soon filled our vehicle with their just-picked aroma. God has His hand on this country for blessing, not for war or disaster, but it will take a lot more than vegetables to bring back “normal.” Other seeds must be sown.
Ministry future: Pray with us as plans are developed and prayed over with national ministry colleagues for integrating fellowships in these post-war areas. More to come on that later.
We now have 126 Syrian and Iraqi refugee children in our program in Iraq. Of those children, 91 are sponsored! Thank you, Sponsors!! This month, several churches in California and Colorado launched our Refugee Child Sponsorship Campaign to share the need of these refugee children. This Campaign includes four videos for four Sundays, bulletin inserts, posters, social media bursts and other materials.
Call our office and get your church involved! Ask about short term projects for VBS and Youth Groups.
Your support helps with vital food packets, school uniform, backpack and help with school progress. Your help also brings the children together once a month for Bible lessons, games and songs as they hear the Gospel! Start your sponsorship today online at IndigenousMinistries.org, or call Sarah Rieger at our office at 719-302-3028. God bless you.
$ 39/month – sponsor 1 child
$ 78/month – sponsor 2 children
$117/month – sponsor 3 children
On September 27, 2016, the New York Times featured a disturbing yet eye-catching article, “Why so Many Children are Being Killed in Aleppo.” Started in 2011 during the “Arab Spring,” the Syrian Civil War churns on, and estimates are that as many as 465,000 have died as a result of the carnage, and over 4,000 schools have been destroyed. As in any conflict, innocent children are caught in the middle. Several of our US IM family called the office to ask if we could do anything to help these precious children. Yes! We answered and as a result of generous donations, $6500 was sent in 2017 to a partnering church in Aleppo to help the children, some of whom are pictured on the right. We’re grateful for their ministry in this difficult area. The funds were used for nutritious (especially milk!) food packets, clothing and small gifts for these very grateful kids. Thank you for your love, gifts and prayers for these children. The Syrian pastor noted in his report that the children of Aleppo are military experts of sorts and discuss the sounds each missile, bomb and rocket make. They also talk a lot about their friends and relatives who have been hurt or killed by weapons and how they have had to leave.
As the chaos continues in Syria, you may ask, what can we do?! First, don’t give in to feelings of being helpless and frustrated – because there is so much we can do. Set reminders to pray often for these families, especially the women and children. Pray for peace, pray for their health and safety, pray for them to be drawn by the Love of Christ. Pray they may be able to attend school. Pray for the national pastors and the churches in Syria and throughout the Middle East; pray for the lay leadership and Christians in business to prosper. Pray for jobs. Pray against the spiritual strongholds. Next, pray about sponsoring a child through Indigenous Ministries. Our national teams are helping Syrian and Iraqi refugees in Kurdistan right now. Follow our Facebook and watch for our website blogs and videos so you will be “in the know.” You can still donate to help the Aleppo children on our website in the “Donate” tab. Thank you.
In March, hundreds of women gathered together to listen to the story of Hagar who was also displaced and whose life was tossed about by other people’s decisions. It was a thrill to be able to met these women and speak to them in Baghdad for the first time! We had a great time together in the Word, exercising and making the signature Beautiful International beaded memory wire bracelets. Then in Kurdistan, we met with two more groups of Beautiful women who are refugees. The energy in the refugee camp was off the charts as the women laughed, sang and spent time together around the Word.
I asked a group of Iraqi and Syrian refugees what their biggest personal challenge was as a woman…no one hesitated; “It’s our children, of course, we are so concerned for them, it’s hard to get good medical care,” some said, others, new refugees from Syria, noted with frustration that their children cannot understand the Kurdish language and cannot attend school. I look forward to sharing with you more ways we help women in the Middle East.
These women know that so many of you here in the US make these meetings happen with your prayers and financial gifts, because I share that you want to help them – they send their love and grateful hugs to you for these wonderful times! Please give generously to Beautiful International. Thank you.
Join me in Egypt or Iraq in Fall 2018: Cost: $3850. Pray, teach, sing, help with crafts, bring a group from your church. The time is now. Women are waiting, and you CAN make a difference! Contact our office to sign up.
This month as ministry in Iraq continues, the families our teams are serving share their personal stories and gratitude; stories of great heartache and frustration. One widow and her three children, revealed they were living on the food they were receiving from our child sponsorship program. Others share they learned their home is destroyed and wait for the government to help.
At this time, refugees are in no small struggle with their fate. Reports state that in the past three months, hundreds of thousands of refugees in the Anbar governorate are returning to their districts and some to their homes, or what is left of it. Sounds good, doesn’t it? This is false hope. Fallujah in Anbar was the first to fall to ISIS in January 2014, and the offensive against ISIS concluded in Rawah in November 2017, the last town liberated from ISIS control. Now that major military efforts against ISIS are completed, the focus is on resettling millions of internally displaced Iraqis. Sending Syrian refugees home, another topic entirely, remains a dismal prospect at present, given the condition of their home government.
Complicating matters for Iraqi refugees are conditions causing many to leave refugee camps prematurely. Some are coerced by family and tribal leaders, while others are being forced out of camps by the Iraqi government in an attempt to resettle refugees. Despite the UN’s Funding Facility for Stabilization (FFS) launched in 2015 to provide funding to stabilize and rebuild areas previously held by ISIS, the consensus is that needs greatly outnumber resources. These conditions have created “re-refugees,” or refugees once again without homes, making this crisis even more heartbreaking.
Safety cannot be guaranteed for families with unexploded explosives scattered throughout cities, communities and in homes. In surveys, 30% of refugees have no idea of the condition of their homes, and those who have information are often disappointed to find out their homes are greatly damaged, already inhabited by someone else, and their community infrastructure has yet to be rebuilt.
Another twist in this drama is the ongoing terrifying prospect of neighbors turning each other in to be arrested as “ISIS collaborators,” whether true or not. Families have seen their loved ones killed as a result. After enduring so much, the threat of the ISIS state of mind is still very much a destructive one. For those who lived under ISIS control, freedom now is a mixed bowl of cherries, and some of the cherries are rotten.
We cannot overstate the importance of aid families are receiving from our program. The refugees we minister to are receiving some of the most basic food packets and other supplies from our program, which help make life more bearable. What we have confirmed, as John and I are in Iraq, is that no aid is insignificant. Families living on the edge of existence need the aid and spiritual hope given through the Refugee Child Sponsorship Program.
Thank you for giving to help refugees! Please continue to help with regular generous donations to the Iraq Relief Fund. These funds continue to be used to reach out to refugees in the name of Christ. Go online and in the Donate drop down, select “Iraq Relief Project.”
Source: Report from The Danish Refugee Council, Norwegian Refugee Council and International Rescue Committee, Feb. 2018
As I joined John in Iraq this month, I’m amazed at just how vital the time is for us to be in this arena. You and I MUST not let this time slip by. This is a time to not shrink back from the job and opportunities in front of us to reach out and help women. Many national Middle Eastern women are in positions to impact the future of Iraq and Syria for good and yet are themselves in need – need of encouraging, need of resources, need of prayers and most of all the need to know that their sisters in the US care about them! That is what Beautiful International is doing right now.
There are several projects we are preparing for women in the Middle East this year, and I’m asking for your help. Pray with me for our conferences this month where I’ll be speaking; pray especially for the women who are emotionally hurting. Your generous donations to Beautiful are vital and are used to help these women.
Join me this fall ministering to women in Egypt, Iraq or the Philippines. Cost: $3850. What could you do? Pray, teach, sing, and help with crafts, you can also bring a group with you from your church.
Seamstresses Needed – Would you like to help with your sewing skills? We’re collecting cotton (nice quality) flannel blankets through September to ship into Iraq. Ship them to the Indigenous Ministries office address listed on page four. Please send in $4.50/lb to cover cost of shipment and handling overseas.
Baby Blanket Specifics:
Please use good quality flannel, and sew each blanket with 1/4” hems twice rolled and pressed on all 4 sides.
Size: approx. 40” x 40”
Ladies, get groups together to sew and pray over these blankets as a ministry in Jesus’ name. Thank you for loving the precious refugee babies.
You may have noticed the big energetic enormous goal we have undertaken in the Middle East. With 125 children enrolled in the Refugee Child Sponsorship Program, 78 are now sponsored. So many have responded to this challenge, and we take this moment to express our heart-felt appreciation to you! Each and every child in this program are in our hearts, and we thank the Lord for this opportunity to partner with you. We continue to reach out to more refugee children, with a goal of 1000 children in the program. Together, with God’s help, we will be part of their healing, and also a part of their physical and spiritual journey.
CHURCHES ARE SPREADING THE WORD:
Churches – both large and small – are getting the word out to see more children sponsored. Sunday school classes, Awana groups, youth groups and women’s groups have joined in to help kids. It’s an effective way to impact entire families with the Gospel and relief aid.
WOULD YOU ASK YOUR CHURCH LEADERSHIP TO GET INVOLVED?
Be an ambassador for these kids in your church or group! All that’s needed is a few minutes in Sunday service for four weeks to show a brief video each week explaining the program and sharing the children’s stories. There are posters to hang and a table to prepare for the back of the church.
WE PROVIDE EVERYTHING:
We provide the videos, posters, social media posts for your church’s Facebook, bulletin inserts and easy to use sign up cards. People can sign up online by scanning this QR code, right, to sponsor:
Once signed up, Sarah will send out the children’s profile cards to new sponsors in your church. Questions? Feel free to give Sarah a call at 719-302-3028.
I have traveled overseas several times, ministering in destitute towns and villages. Every time I go to places like this, it makes me realize again how much I truly have. I don’t just have the basic necessities of life; I have much more. It would grieve me to see children with no shoes, and clothes so tattered and torn, they would hardly stay on their little bodies. Many of the adults and children I would meet had not eaten that day, or the day before. If they had eaten, it was usually just one very small meal a day. I saw so many that didn’t have the food they need, clean water, and other basic needs that we take for granted every day. I would always ask myself, “What can I do to help these precious people?” “How can I share just even a tiny fraction of the blessings God has given me?”
Over the years, I have heard many different presentations on child sponsorships. Being a teacher, I am drawn to children, but I had never pursued being a part of a vital partnership like this. When I started working at Indigenous Ministries almost a year ago, I learned first hand about children that have next to nothing. I saw videos that staff in our office have taken of children they have met in Iraq who lost everything when ISIS invaded their home. They fled with their lives and the clothes on their back. It has been hard to hear about the trauma these children have experienced.
It feels overwhelming sometimes, because the need in so many places around the world is so great. It’s easy to think that we could never make a difference. I realized, though, that I could make a difference in one child’s life. I could help make her life better in the midst of all the horrible things she has seen and experienced. I can make sure that she eats every day. I can make sure that she gets medical attention when she needs it. I can make sure that she can go to school and get an education. I can make sure that she hears about the love of Jesus.
Would you consider joining me in making a difference in the life of one child? One by one, if many of us take this step of sponsoring a child, the impact grows and grows, and together we can make a huge difference in the lives of many children and families. If you are like I was, hearing again about sponsoring a child, and feeling the prompting of the Holy Spirit to do something, I urge you to give our office a call at 719-302-3028, or visit our website at www.IndigenousMinistries.org where you can join our ministry in sponsoring a child who really needs your help. Not only will you be a huge blessing in the life of a child, but it might surprise you how much you will be blessed as well!