This month in Northern Iraq, something very special is happening! Children’s Sunday school is being taught to the children of the Yazidi women in the English classes. These pictures are of Yazidi children in another area, but they were so excited to receive their Christmas packages and Bible lesson, that we thought we’d share their faces with you.
Would you please keep our team in your prayers as the children are being ministered to? These refugee families have been through so much, and it’s a joy to share Biblical truths with the women and the children.
Thank you for your special part in this with your prayers and financial gifts which empower this ministry to be effective and ongoing!
The Church in Iraq has a long standing tradition of celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. Although Christians are currently a minority, until the 7th century, they were the majority religious group with many churches in the region. Nominal Christians, Catholics and evangelical Christians in Iraq now number approximately 600,000, most of whom are located in Kurdistan, Northern Iraq.
In our church plant in the north, for several weeks the children work very hard rehearsing Christmas songs and a drama and then proudly present it in the Christmas service. There are beautiful decorations in the church, and special foods and sweets served after the service.
Church members visit refugee camps during the month handing out food packets and sharing the Christmas message to families. The youth go along singing carols. With so many families in crisis, what a special joy it is to share the Hope in Christ we have because of His birth!
Armenian Christians celebrate Christmas on January 6; Assyrians and Chaldean Christians celebrate on the 25th of December. Officially the evangelicals celebrate together on December 25. In Christmas celebrations, they welcome brothers and sisters from Muslim backgrounds into their fellowship to share in the festivities.
On the evening of December 31, they have a big celebration including worship, listening to the Word of God read and preached and enjoying dramas. They play Biblical competitions, and then they pray for the new year. In the last minutes before midnight, while handling the candles, they congratulate each other for the new year, and share a big cake as a family of Believers.
Relief Aid continues to be a vital arm of Indigenous Ministries’ work in Iraq. One of our teams recently gave out dozens of liters of kerosene to refugee families in the church to help them with the cold weather. They also regularly provide food packets, clothing, medical helps and heaters as needed.
Pictured is a refugee woman with health issues whom we have helped with food and clothing. The next picture is a refugee camp; and John and Dee handing out food packets.
Your generous donations will help refugee families hear the Gospel and receive aid. Donate online or mail in your check. Thank you so much.
This month marks a record for our child sponsorship program in Northern Iraq! We have 86 refugee children in our program in Northern Iraq with a goal of having 125 in the program by the end of the year. Of those 86 children, 47 are sponsored – we have 39 children who need sponsors.
Join us (each of us in the Indigenous Ministries home office sponsor at least one child) and take advantage of this opportunity to speak into the life of a precious child in a refugee camp! Have you ever thought of a practical way to stop terrorism? This is one! Let a child know you care; that you pray for him or her.
Your $39/month support helps with food, a school uniform, backpack and help with school progress. Your help also brings the children together once a month for Bible lessons, games and songs. 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. Please do it today!
The Yazidi high school girls and women in N. Iraq took their final exams this month and have done well! We’re so proud of each of them. A special word of thanks to our team lead for this project, Wesam, and to Elham, who has been teaching since July. For 10-15 minutes before classes, Wesam has been sharing the Word of God. The ladies asked to know more about our beliefs, and say they really enjoy these sessions.
Our funding for this project has run out, however, the girls and women have asked to continue, and 36 jumped in and signed up for the next classes. By faith, I’ve said we will continue with this great opportunity, as long as the funding comes in. We will also include a backyard Good News Club-style meeting for the children each week.
To donate, go to IndigenousMinistries.org and select Beautiful International Women’s Ministries. The need each month is $2950; we are asking the Lord for six more months of classes. Thank you so much for praying and giving.
Is Northern Iraq headed for fresh uprising and violence? On September 25th, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq, promises to hold a referendum initiating the process of independence from Iraq. Large oil fields to the East, many of which are under the authority of the KRG, are certainly a motivating factor, but what other price might be paid to settle this decades-old struggle?
On September 12th, in a definite push-back to the September 25th vote, the Iraqi Parliament met in Baghdad and unanimously rejected the Kurdish referendum, a move that many world leaders fear could set off fresh violence and divert attention away from settling the situation with the Islamic State in Mosul.
KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani, nephew of KRG President Massoud Barzani, stated on September 13 that the referendum will be held on September 25. In a meeting with Mr. Kurt Georg Stockl-Stillfried, the new Consul General of Germany in Erbil, Prime Minister Barzani…stressed the referendum that the Kurdistan Region will hold later this month is a mean (sic) to define the relations between Baghdad and the Kurdistan Region in a way to prevet (sic) the recurrence of past tragedies and atrocities committed against the people of Kurdistan. Retrieved from http://cabinet.gov.krd/?l=12.
How are Christians in this key harvest field viewing this possible referendum? Most are cautiously monitoring this tug of war. Those we spoke with recently feel there is real reason for concern, stating this decision could go very badly for Christians. Others, still struggling to find normalcy in their daily lives after losing everything to Islamic State, are numb to another government power struggle. Some go to work each day while others sit hopelessly in refugee camps; life varies greatly.
As millions of refugees’ lives hang in the balance with vital resources discussed and bargained for, refugees hope and pray for continued peace. Many Syrian refugees, most of whom are Kurds, are reluctant to leave the relatively stable life they now have and return to the chaos they face back home. For these families, some feel the referendum may further stabilize the region, making their settling in the Erbil region more sustainable.
With many nationalities, ethnic and religious groups co-existing in Kurdistan in relative peace, the question is whether the end of September will bring a fresh instability in this region.
Regardless of the outcome, our Indigenous Ministries national church planting teams, relief aid workers and Refugee Child Sponsorship Program staff continue to minister, as do many others in the region. We are grateful to the Kurdish government for creating a stable environment and a sanctuary for millions of refugees from war zones in Iraq and Syria. Please keep this great nation in your prayers this month, and especially our teams ministering God’s love and grace there.