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Little Sparks of Hope Remain

October 16, 2013 by Open Doors in General

Little Sparks of Hope Remain

Leaving…finding a way out is the main thought in the minds of many Christians in Central-South Iraq. Fearful of exploding bombs, rockets landing in their homes, and death lurking around every corner… many have run out of reasons to stay. Large numbers of Iraqi Christians have already left. But those who remain find little sparks of hope in fellowship with other Christians.

“Many times we tried to flee,” confided a mother in her forties at an Open Doors sponsored First Aid Trauma Training. A few years ago, when her family received death threats, they sold all their belongings and went abroad. They soon ran out of money and were forced to return. They tried again and again, each time selling their belongings for the escape, but they never reached a place of safety or had enough resources to stay. The last time, they got no further than selling their belongings. After failing to flee the last time, they were left with absolutely nothing, not even a house. A church from a denomination they did not even belong to generously offered for them free shelter in one of the church. That offer of hope has sustained them in their struggles.

Christians in general have withdrawn from the local community out of fear of violence or a desire to protect their identity. Fear and a sense of societal isolation are at the heart of their desire to flee, says a Christian from Central-South. “We are lost in this society. We don’t know ourselves and the others don’t know us either. We feel lost.” William, a long-time fieldworker in Iraq, adds “that if I would go to Iraq today bringing 350,000 visas to go abroad, one for every Christian in Iraq, 300,000 of them would take it. I have seen many Christians fleeing to the North and from there they try to go abroad. But to go abroad you need money, a visa and the right connections. Not everyone has that.”

William and his co-workers encourage the believers to reintegrate into society and support each other as Christians. Mutual support can make a profound difference in their lives. One of the traumatized believers shares, “I am grateful to be here with all of you. I felt terrible because of everything that has happened, but being with you I feel happy because I can share what is in my heart.” Each believer who gathered for the First Aid Trauma Training brought a unique story of difficulties, but they also carried a passion to serve wounded Christians. “Every person is important and we are all responsible to care for each other,” says one participant, adding that he learned that people not only need physical health, they also need someone to trust and someone who listens to them.

This willingness to help each other out makes the struggle with their existence in Iraq a little more bearable. This training also helps them to heal the non-visible wounds hidden away in their hearts. “We really need such trainings; we will be able to use them as soon as we are back home.”

Father, once again we bring before You the Christians in Iraq, especially those in the Central-South area where they suffer many hardships and find it difficult to escape. Protect them, Father, by the power of Your name. Strengthen their faith and provide for their earthly needs. We pray Your blessing and covering over those providing trauma care and generally reaching out to those who suffer. We pray for unity among Your churches that the name of Christ might be proclaimed in power. In the name of Jesus, our only hope in time of trouble. Amen.

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