Journal Notes From Iraq…

Craig and John with some of the hardest working people we know. Please pray for all of our national staff as they work behind the scenes full time in the Child Sponsorship Program. The logistics and changing conditions they navigate are a constant challenge. They appreciate your prayers!

I hardly know where to begin. On my very first day in Iraq, I found myself working alongside a young man whose faith in Christ was less than a month old. David* (all names are changed for security purposes) came to Christ out of Islam and literally beams with excitement in learning more about Jesus.

As we drove to our school backpack distribution for children in our sponsorship program, he had so many questions and I was blessed to try to answer them. He had heard so many wrong things about our faith, not just from Muslims but also from the traditional Christian churches in the area—millennia old but often without any gospel. His friendship with one of our key ministry team leaders led to asking questions. As a result, he and his brother became believers, and told their family—a very dangerous decision in this environment. To their surprise, their father said he secretly had come to believe in Jesus already.

Our work is in a city that had been decimated by ISIS—a historically “Christian” town that is rebuilding but has lost 40% of its Christian population and had Muslims fill the void. They are largely destitute, and our sponsorship program allows families to be fed and send their children to school. How humbling to represent Jesus among them.

Then, there’s Amal*, a beautiful boy of 13. He’s the Syrian refugee Kathy and I have sponsored for years. I visited with him, and talked about faith in Jesus, his schooling, and with the family. To know that every month, the family is supplied food, Amal* receives what he needs for school, and our workers here share the truth and keep track of him is a blessing beyond measure.

And I should tell you about Bashir*, a Muslim doctor working in a nearby city that suffered greatly under ISIS and now is dealing with rampant COVID. Bashir* has found Islam to be empty and harsh. He accepted John’s invitation to come to the church, and afterward said, “I feel life here!” The next week, he brought his brother!

But Sameer*’s story was an unforeseen blessing. Another Syrian refugee, Sameer* was befriended by our staff member, who began to challenge his traditional Christianity with the gospel. Sameer* came to help out at our office, and then came to the Church Leadership Seminar we held. As we talked about baptism as a public profession of faith and not a saving sacrament, he became convicted, talked to our worker and then asked to meet with John and me, along with our local pastor and our co-teacher for the seminar. With us, he prayed to receive Christ. And the next day, he brought his mother and his brother with him to church! And our worker who helped him come to Christ? He has led eleven people to Jesus in the last month. All are beginning their next steps in growing and deepening their faith. – Craig Miller, Director of Educational Development