One of my closest friends in ministry and a member of this online community is in Iraq at this moment ministering to those caught in the war there.
For obvious reasons, his identity and location must remain secret.
This is what he just wrote me;
“Let me begin by saying that the reports that we see in the comfort of our homes do not do justice as to what the reality is.
There was another attack on a remote village last night that drove over 5,000 IDP’s (Internally Displaced Persons), to the area where we are ministering.
I asked a pastor how this situation compares with the war to overthrow Hussein and this was how he responded, “we knew where and when that war was to be fought. In this situation, there is no warning and the attackers are evil”.
On the local news, they actually show on video people being thrown off of cliffs, people being shot in the head and others being beheaded.
Part of the problem is that to them, it’s an honor to die and therefore there is no fear in these killers.
While meeting with our contact who is a young pastor whom I have known for approximately 5 years, he shared how the families of one of the large towns which were attacked fled into this area and the Christian’s sought him out for shelter and protection.
There are currently approximately 50 people living in the basement of his church with nothing more than the clothes on their back and whatever they could pack in their vehicles. They are afraid, they are homeless and they have no hope.
Pastor M, has an existing congregation of around 120 people plus the IDP’s that came to him for help.
Typically in these situations we want to think that we can fix this problem by giving them money to help with the needs.
Money will not correct the problem this time…
Once housing is secured, they will need furniture, clothing, jobs etc.
As far as the housing, the cost to rent has gone up over 25% in the last 24 hours.
The owners of the housing for rent are demanding a one year lease with huge deposits up front.
Gas for vehicles can be purchased at astronomical prices after waiting in line for up to 11 hours and everyone is limited to 30 liters per vehicle.
Cooking oil is rationed and people are only allowed to purchase 2 small containers at a time.
The cost of all food products are going through the roof and as you can imagine, the demand is greater than the supply.
We intended to come here and hold up the arms of a young pastor who we knew couldn’t say no to anyone with a need.
Our friend is tired and he is being stretched beyond anything he ever thought he would experience.
You see, he knows these people who he is helping.
He understands their words and he knows why they cry.
He knows the name of every child and he can’t help but smile with tears in his eyes as he tries to figure out how to feed his new family.
When we met with him this morning, he was handing out new shoes to children who’s parents probably couldn’t afford these shoes in the best of circumstances even without becoming hunted down like animals.
The women refugees made lunch for everyone today and insisted that we (3) get served first.
One by one they shook our hands and thanked us for coming.
The little ones played all around us and pretended not to be scared.
Their father’s and mothers tried to explain the toll this has taken on them without crying.
These people are broken and scared.
Our pastor friend is worried and tired.
He needs to go home and hug his wife and little girl but he’s a true shepherd of God’s people and struggles to leave his new family alone.
As of 6 pm our time, the bad guys were 30 minutes away and attacking another village with the vehicles and weapons that we left the local army while trying to free them from a wicked man.
Now there are many wicked men.
We wondered how many refugees will be in the basement waiting for food and shelter when we wake up.
There is a plethora of emotions that I am feeling and while trying to force myself to forget, the little faces that proudly own the new shoes broke my heart today.
What are these people guilty of? What did these people do to deserve being treated worse than a dog? They love Jesus.
I’m learning a lot and need your prayers.”
Wisdom and direction for Pastor M
Financial support to feed and provide housing
Peace from the terrorists who want to murder innocent people
“I will continue to update you as time allows. Thank you for your prayers and I ask that you pray as you are led regarding all of the challenges that these people will continue to face.
I cannot validate any of the political commentaries that we see in the news as this is not a political issue, it’s a moral issue.
These killers hate Christ and all that He stands for. As far as they are concerned, they are doing exactly what is expected of them by their god.
They believe that they need to die for their god and we know that Our God died for us.”
“It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones”