Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Caring for Refugees- “GOOD News from the Middle East”

A mission team recently presented about their work in Iraq to interested church and community members at the First Presbyterian Church in Conrad, Ia.  They reported that many are seeing the goodness of the Lord, quoting Psalm 34:8- “Taste and see that the Lord is good.  Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in Him.”

    The team works in an area where there are approximately twenty refugee camps in an area the size of three Iowa counties.  There are many humanitarian efforts going on there and many organizations present.  Many of the people they serve are Yezidi people.  There are also Syrian refugees.  The mission team’s work includes serving the poor in several ways, praying with people, and discipling people interested in seeking God more.  They are able to speak broken Arabic, the language of many of the people they serve.
    The mission team share about the three main things they are doing to serve the poor (the refugees.)  They are helping people who need mobility devices- whether that’s a wheel chair or another mobility device.  They are also sharing fresh fruit with people for their nutrition needs, and distributing dry good and hygiene items.  They also lead scripture-based trauma healing.  There are many people who are traumatized by ISIS- though they themselves have not been killed or captured.  Many refugees have witnessed family members being killed or captured.
    This mission team also hosts short-term medical teams.  One of the mission workers is involved there in what she completed her education in-  health care.  Another project is a ladies’ fitness program.  They have a private area where women can exercise, it has given women “peace in my spirit,” others have been happy about losing weight through it, or that their pain is relieved.
    The mission team also prays with the refugees.  The mission team shared many stories of answered prayer.  God is working in powerful ways there, and people are believing in Jesus, because “praying in the name of Jesus works!” (one person they served proclaimed.)
    They do have a problem with persecution in Iraq & Syria.  Many who are Christians have experienced persecution.  They did explain that there are cultural Christians- people who identify as Christians on their passport only.  There has been war going on for many years for many of the refugees, and forgiveness is hard for them.  They have a lot of resentment.  The mission team asked us to pray for Jesus’ healing in many of these people’s lives. 

    Prayer is requested for all the work they’re doing.  There are native evangelists committed to the people of Iraq and Syria, but many natives dream of moving to the West; they do not have hope for the future of Iraq or Syria.  So let us pray for hope and courage to come alive, so that people could spread the love of Christ, and change Iraq & Syria so people want to and can live there, and the world.

By Christine Sheller

Christine Sheller is coordinator at Iowa Peace Network, and holds a Master of Divinity from Bethany Theological Seminary.

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