During her travels, Open Doors contact Sara* meets the most inspiring people. Anwar, a victim of Islamic State (IS) terror in Iraq, is one of the strongest among them. God is working in this displaced woman in extraordinary ways. Recently Sara visited Anwar again.
I first met Anwar and her family about one and a half years ago. It was the month after they had become victims of the terror from the Islamic State. They arrived in the safer Kurdish area with nothing but the clothes on their bodies. When we met them at the time, they had only the cold floor to sleep on. We were the first to visit them.
I remember their relief when we found them; the realization that they were not forgotten. I have seen their situation improving with the help of our partner organization. Today we’re driving to their little house once more to see how they are doing.
Love and Determination
Behind the metal gate of the little house I see Anwar’s waving hands. Exited to see me, she gives me four kisses and a big, long hug. I greet her mother Samera and sister Ghada in the same way. From father William I receive a smile and a firm handshake. Anwar is the one taking care of her traumatized elderly parents and her sister, who has been disabled by an attack from an IS member.
In Iraq, sharing starts with food and drinks being put on the table. Samera made dolma, rice in grape leaves, which she happily shares with her visitors. Each month the family receives a food package from Open Doors’ local partner. Anwar supplements it with fresh vegetables she buys at the market. The daily care of the family is in the hands of Anwar. She tries to take care of her parents and sister in the best way she can; with love and determination.
Getting to know Anwar, I found out that she is an amazingly strong woman. She is also very caring. Back in Mosul she was a nurse, but the majority of her care went to her family who she cared for in extraordinary ways even before the Islamic extremists took over her city.
Nieces in the Garbage Bin
Anwar arranges everything the family needs. Where does she get her strength? “It is God,” she says. He has been giving her strength all her life. Anwar begins sharing a story. Years ago, her two premature nieces were given up by the doctors. They just threw them into the garbage bin. Anwar’s caring heart could not accept it. She got the two barely breathing bodies out of the bin and started caring for them. For 50 days in a row she stood beside them night and day, not even taking the time to sleep. Even though she has told me the story before, tears fill my eyes again when she shows the picture of two healthy teenage girls, now living abroad. Her nieces survived. That same God that enabled Anwar to care for her nieces enables her to take care of her family now. “God made me a fighter,” she says. “A loving one.”
It was also God who enabled her to act that dark day at the checkpoint more than a year ago. The entire family gets emotional when Anwar shares the events of that day. That day when, all of a sudden, they had to leave their beloved house in Mosul, unsure of their lives would they have stayed.
Driven out of the city, they arrived at a checkpoint. There the women were separated from William. A fully veiled lady approached the women and started taking all their valuables in a very degrading way. When Ghada protested, a gun was pointed at her. Anwar had to beg on her knees for her sister’s life. She was disgusted by having to kneel to the people destroying her city. She was not sure of her life when she did, but she couldn’t let her sister be killed.
Anwar’s desperate move had its desired effect. Finally, the terrorist gave in. She didn’t kill Ghada or Anwar. In a nasty gesture, she hit Ghada on her leg to punish her protest. Ghada still has trouble walking, even though she had surgery. Anwar has to go to the pharmacy and the market alone now because the family can’t afford another surgery were Ghada to fall.
Far away from their home, neighbors, and extended family, the family spends their days waiting. We join Anwar and her family in watching the news, like they do every day. They closely follow what happens in their city of Mosul. IS has implemented a violent version of Islamic law and is destroying Christian heritage. They miss their city but are afraid it will never be safe enough to return. It is hard for Anwar to see her parents cry about what happened and what is still happening. They also still have trouble sleeping at night.
When Samera begins crying I put my arm around her. I often feel so powerless standing beside our brothers and sisters. Yes, they have food, yes they have a house, but how will they process the trauma they’ve been through? I can only ask God to give them peace.
I give the women a bracelet representing Psalm 23. It was made by Christian women in the Netherlands. Concerned faces have turned to excited smiling faces. The small bracelet represents a world full of brothers and sisters who have been keeping them in prayer.
*Name changed for security reasons.
Open Doors is helping Christians who have been displaced by Islamic State. To help feed a family for $50 a month, go to https://secure2.convio.net/ccod/site/Donation2?df_id=7560&7560.donation=form1&_ga=1.43211565.981393229.1378412015.
Compiled by Jerry Dykstra. For media inquiries, contact Christine Cape at 404-545-0085 or Christy Lynn Wilson at 770-401-9842.