FROM THE DESK OF PASTOR ARA, BAGHDAD:
Praise the Lord, we are doing well and serving the Lord God in these difficult times. During this period, I read in the Bible the book of Psalms, and now I have arrived at Isaiah 35. It is really encouraging us to depend on the Messiah’s grace, in the midst of the challenges.
In addition, I read two books about the church in this period. The first one is translated book, titled: What is a Healthy Church? By Mark E. Dever (Arabic version). The second book, which I am reading now, is: Why the Church: A Contemporary Vision for the Roll of the Arabic Church, by a group of Arab Theologians.
Praise the Lord, all of the congregation families doing well, and we continue the Bible Study Home Groups using Viber app with the church families and the displaced refugees. In fact, the social media plays an excellent role in this particular period, because we transferred Sunday sermons online on the YouTube and FB pages of the church – the best way we can keep in contact with the people.
The team of AWANA, which is led by Noora, established a FB page for the AWANA clubs in all of Iraqi churches who use this curriculum for teaching kids in Sunday schools in Evangelical and Traditional churches in Baghdad and Kurdistan. In fact, each lesson takes around 3-4 hours to produce a short video which is around 10-12 min.
Each video is a result of cooperation of 3-4 Sunday school teachers, who are presenting the lesson in different local languages – Arabic, Assyrian, Chaldean, and Armenian to reach the people and kids from different backgrounds, especially with the displaced refugee families, which some of these families are supported by Indigenous Ministries through Child Sponsorship Program.
I would like to share a story of a family who was infected by COVID-19, this family includes 5 persons; Layth 60 yrs, and his wife Eman 52 yrs, and their daughters Rita 16 yrs, and Riva 11 yrs. This family is a displaced refugee family that came from Mosul, and is living now in a caravan in a camp in the midst of Baghdad. This family is recorded in the Child Sponsorship Program through their little girl; Riva.
Eman is working in a private hospital, and she takes care of the family, because Layth cannot work. Eman is a cleaner in the hospital. A month ago she underwent medical examinations and she discovered that she had COVID-19, then Layth and Rita had also the virus .
The pastoral team in the church called them and talk with them about their challenges, and sent the food bags to their house. We stayed beside them by calling and asking about the health development of their cases once/twice weekly until they healed, praise the Lord.
In fact, this period of COVID-19 and the lockdown was an excellent period in different aspects: Firstly, the church families tried to help some very poor families who participate in our Saturday ministry by giving them financial gift. Secondly, the church also helped whole families who benefit from the Relief Program, by helping them with food bags, and protected them from the crowd places.
The verses that touches my heart in the midst of these challenges are: Philippians 4:13-14 “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble.” ESV