Lydia* is on the ground on behalf of Open Doors this week. She reports what an Iraqi church is going through, and how Open Doors donors are making an impact in their daily lives, for His glory! I’m sitting in an elementary school classroom listening to a story-not from a teacher, but from the family that lives here. The whole school is filled with people who fled from Qaraqosh. Every classroom is a temporary home for three or more families. Most mattresses are now piled up in the corner, and the students’ desks are used for storing food- and that is all they have. The fan that was given to them is only working when the electricity is on, which is only a few times a day. A mother in her thirties tells me why she had to flee for the third time is her life- first in 2006 from Baghdad. She and her family were threatened by Islamists: ‘you are a Christian- if you stay, we will kill you.’ So they left. On their way out, the extremists followed the car they were in and pushed the car over the edge of a bridge. The car hurled down the slope. She had severe head injuries and was barely alive. Two relatives died in the accident. Her two sons were with her in the car, but suffered only minor physical injuries; however, one of the boys could not speak or walk for three days because of the trauma. The scars in her face tell me that it’s a miracle she is still alive. After this horrible episode, they built up a new life in Qaraqosh. Then, in June of 2014, fighters of the Islamic State (IS) were getting closer, and they had to flee to Erbil. After about three days, it was said that it was safe enough to go back to Qaraqosh, and so they did. But then, during the night on August 6, they were awakened to the news: within three hours, IS would reach their town because the Kurdish Peshmerga who kept the city secure was withdrawing. Again, they had to run for their lives. They got out of the city just in time, only with the clothes they were wearing and nothing more. Tears are in my eyes as I feel her desperation. She says, “If we stay, this will happen over and over again. First, we wanted to stay in Iraq because it’s our home and we love this land, but it’s too much. We can’t live like this anymore.” Her mother-in-law then surprises me by saying that although they have suffered a great deal, God will provide them with the best home they ever can imagine in heaven. She says “He will wipe away all the tears and reward us for everything we have lost. He will be our reward. This will always be our hope and faith!” Humbled by this, I let them know that they are loved by so many people around the world in prayer for them. I showed them the pictures we took of the prayer meetings in London and in the Netherlands. We also showed them the #WeAreN t-shirt and told them that people wear this to stand united with all of the Christians in Iraq. Her face immediately lights up, and despite the pain and uncertainty in her future, she is amazed and thankful that people care about her and the Christians in Iraq. I gave her the t-shirt as a reminder: we are united in Christ!
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