This report was recently sent to our office by our Middle East Partners. Though the news is sobering, it gives us a glimpse into what Christians in the area are facing and what nearby believers are doing to help them.
The first-hand stories we hear continue to break our hearts. Every single Iraqi family has experienced one or more areas of persecution, murder, kidnapping, fleeing, disease, or grief, and in many cases, because of their faith. We have been involved in aiding Christian Iraqis for years, both in and outside of Iraq, but now because of the security situation in Iraq and the increased numbers of refugees, 18 months ago, the efforts shifted to assist refugees in Syria and Jordan. On a monthly basis hundreds of families in Aleppo, Damascus, and Amman are assisted with food parcels and basic medical care.
We have also started the printing of 50,000 Arabic Bibles to be provided to Iraqis in Syria. With winter approaching, and with the increased number of refugees who live under extremely difficult conditions, the situation is now alarming. Your contribution is very much needed at this time. Please talk to your church, organization, family and friends about supporting the work among Iraqi Christians. Some of the projects needing help are described below.
Christians Flee Baghdad as Gunmen Impose Sharia Law
More than 300 families have fled from the Dora District in Baghdad following the imposition of Sharia law by Islamic militants in August. The gunmen are especially targeting Christian families who are forced to convert to Islam or pay huge taxes. Men have to wear long beards and women veils, and the latter are not allowed to leave their homes without their husbands. Girls are forbidden from going to school. Relief organizations have been banned from delivering aid inside the district, leaving hundreds of people without assistance.
One Christian said his son had been kidnapped for ransom and the family was selling their home to raise the money to free him. He reported that the gunmen killed everyone in the house next door because the inhabitants refused to pay the taxes and didn’t want to convert to Islam. Government officials have been contacted about the attacks. The local police force was simply too small to take control of security in the area.
This year hundreds of children and young people gave their lives to Christ and many of them are now attending youth meetings all over Jordan. The extensive preparations, thorough leadership training and most of all the consistent prayer before and during camps made a tremendous impact! Mainly through a ministry team from Michigan, there was continuous prayer coverage during the programs. This team that was originally intended to help with various projects around the camp gracefully spent endless hours in prayer and fasting. The Gilead team has already started the 2008 planning with a clearer vision to youth evangelism and leadership training.
Bibles and Literature
Printing is underway for 50,000 Bibles for Syria. We are very excited about the opportunities the Lord is providing for literature. We have sent several shipments of Bibles and books into Iraq and the staff there has reported they are almost running out of stock. This is great news. Also, the bookshop and cafe in Amman is doing very well compared to other bookshops in the country and is able to reach out with many titles to the entire region. A book team is now in Lebanon setting up a bookshop in Beirut.
Please consider sending gifts for food, Bibles, counselor training and medical relief to help assist our Middle Eastern partners.