Iraq (VBB/MNN) – In a quick check of the headline news, you will not find much about the continued violence throughout the Iraq and Syria.
Yet, a Vision Beyond Borders contact who just received an aid container in Jordan sent pictures of an Armenian Christian church that was just bombed along with other buildings in Aleppo, Syria. At least 61 people were killed in that attack.
As a result, Jordan continues to receive refugees. The VBB contact notes that some of these are coming from northern Iraq, and some are from Syria.
VBB founder and director Patrick Klein confirms, “Many of them are coming with just the clothes on their backs. They’re saying, ‘can you help us with hygiene supplies? Can you send us blankets? Clothing? Can you send us feminine products? Vitamins?’”
It’s important to note that in Iraq, ISIS still controls many areas, especially in and around Mosul. Plus, “there’s also a big presence of ISIS in Syria, with about 45 groups, actually now terrorist groups, that are all involved.”
Roads are blocked and that creates problems for groups trying to reach the refugees with basic survival supplies. It’s something they have to take into consideration, too.
Klein explains, “We were going to try to send the container trough southern Iraq, and then it would travel through Iraq, but it would have to go through about 200 checkpoints. We were worried that there would be a lot of people stealing things; it would also go through ISIS-controlled areas. So what we had to do instead was send instead through Turkey, and then from Turkey overland, through northern Iraq.”
VBB contacts have been active in northern Iraq, in Dohuk, as well as in Jordan and Lebanon. The massive population displacement is more than many countries are ready to handle. Simple things fall by the wayside…things that allow for a little human dignity in an unthinkable situation.
The #IraqiRefugees were so excited to receive hygiene kits. The children were also excited to receive kid-specific packs that included a small toy. In a conversation with their contact, Klein conveys just a little of the gratitude. “I said, ’Gilbert! You sound very happy.’ He said, ‘I am so happy! I am so happy! The people in Iraq are so happy. Please tell the American people, ‘Thank you!’ Thank you for not forgetting us!’”
In Northern Iraq, because it is so difficult to get supplies to this area, they are receiving little support from other organizations. The VBB contact has also given out 78 Bibles in two villages and said that the people are hungry for the Gospel.
Klein says, “We heard about a man who’s a doctor in Mosul. He just said the other day that he saw the brutality of ISIS, and he said that ‘Islam is not the truth.’ He said, ‘It’s nothing–but Jesus in the Bible, this is the truth.’ We offered him a Bible, but he said ‘I already have a New Testament. I read it every day. It’s wonderful.’”
Providing assistance is creating many opportunities to share Christ with the people, he adds. “What they’re seeing right now is the compassion of Christians. When they see the compassion of Christians, they open up to the Gospel, and they say ‘Christianity offers life and love and truth’, and they see the brutality of Islam and say ‘this only offers death.’”
The needs are ongoing and growing. Even if everything stopped tomorrow, it would take months for these hundreds of thousands to return home and return to a new ‘normal’. To that end, VBB is hoping to establish an office in Northern Iraq where they would have room to store all the things from the container when they arrive and be able to distribute goods to the people. The added benefit is increased local presence. They’re investigating an opportunity to rent a building for $350/month.
One other thing: “We do have a problem, because, we need more Bibles in Northern Iraq”, says Klein. They’ve bought all the Bibles they can get their hands on. “There are more Bibles in Baghdad, but the road is blocked, so we’re just praying ‘God show us a new way that we can get Bibles in to northern Iraq.’”
Please be praying for the refugees. They have been through so much. There is a great need for physical, emotional and spiritual healing.
The main request of the believers who are face-to-face with this project: “Pray for boldness and open hearts!!!”