In 2014, the number of refugees fleeing ISIS had become the most rapidly unfolded crisis in the world today. By March 2014, ISIS forces had displaced 350,000 people. In July another 500,000 people evacuated from the war zones, and almost doubled the number of refugees. In September another 800,000 people fled the terror – doubling the refugees once again. By the end of 2014 – it was estimated that 2.25 million refugees were displaced across Iraq.
Today 3 million people are estimated to be living in makeshift camps in 3,000 locations across Iraq.
More than 90% of these refugees are trying to survive outside the camps run by the Iraqi government because of lack of resources. A large majority live in abandoned buildings and unfinished construction sites. Refugees have found respite in the homes of local Iraqi families in villages, towns and cities throughout the country. However the nation of Iraq itself is on the brink of collapse when you consider that 8 million or 25% of Iraqi nationals need humanitarian assistance themselves.
Refugees from across the Middle East are fleeing the violence of the self-style Islamic State – a terrorist organisation which conducts mass executions, systematic rape and horrendous acts of violence on anyone who opposes their point of view. Women and young girls are enslaved and subjected to unspeakable sexual violence. Children are coerced and conscripted to join their army, becoming suicide bombers and human shields or face execution if they refuse.
FTH distribution partners on the ground in Kurdistan met a lady named Allieh, a survivor of the ISIS terror. Allieh and her family stayed behind in ISIS-occupied Mosul thinking that if they paid the stipulated tax that their family could ride out the surge of instability. One terrible day she found out how worthless her ‘protection’ money was.
Allieh’s son – a 16yr old named Jahmir, was out riding his bicycle around town. He was stopped at an ISIS checkpoint – and the soldiers became enraged when they discovered he was a Catholic – a Christian. He was given an ultimatum – renounce his faith & convert to Islam – to join the forces of Islam in their Jihad or suffer the consequences.
Jahmir refused… and was murdered on the spot.
Allieh and her family were forced to flee their business, their friends, their home and almost everything they owned. Now they live as refugees, surviving on the support of strangers. Jahmir’s death broke Allieh’s heart, but she takes comfort that her son is in Heaven. Jahmir has died a true martyr’s death and waits in heaven with his Lord and Saviour – Jesus Christ – to be reunited with his family one day.
I wish with all my heart that I could tell you this was an isolated case. Survivor after survivor recounts the horror of being forced to assemble in town squares and witness the sadistic & vicious murder of family and friends. Innocent children and feeble elders slain without discrimination in a public display of malevolent terror.
This is where I rely on the bible as my true north when I think about Jesus’ words in John 10:10,
“The thief comes not but to kill, steal, and destroy,
But I have come to bring life, and life more abundantly!”
Our determination is to respond to this injustice with acts of kindness and mercy that glorify God and affirm his love for a hurting world.
Right now FTH is working with a team of Christian ministries including but limited to the Bible Society and Terry Laws Ministries to bring relief to 30,000 Iraqi & Syrian refugees across Kurdistan. In Kurdistan alone, almost 35% of the refugees have no access to the official UN camps and rely on non-government organisations like FTH for support.
You can help spark hope in a refugee family by sending an emergency kit that will provide a family of 5 with basic supplies like wheat, beans, cooking oil, baby formula, blankets & warm clothing for just $14!
The region of Northern Iraq – Kurdistan – represents such a unique opportunity for FTH because the local Government operates a little differently than the others in the region.
For instance – sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ; that he died on the cross as the sacrifice for their sins once and for all – is not illegal in Kurdistan. If it is not illegal to share the Gospel – it is also not illegal to convert from Islam to Christianity either! This allows us to include Gospel Literature in local dialects in every food pack; and to share the Gospel in person at every opportunity.
Food packs from FTH are given freely with no strings attached. There is no requirement to renounce one belief system… no prerequisite to convert to another belief system, no obligation, constraints or pressure of any kind. Food and relief is given in Jesus’ name as an act of kindness.
I think we tend to forget that Jesus of Nazareth was anointed by God with the Holy Ghost and with power to go about and do good! (Acts 10:38).
An entire Muslim family accepted Christ as a result of this approach. The father shared with our team on the ground, “Whatever motivates you to help us… I want to be a part of it!”
You can be a part of it too. You can ignite a spark of hope in ordinary people like you or me living in an extraordinary time. Please prayerfully consider sending an emergency kit to Iraq and help feed a family of 5 for an entire month.