Manara Ministries March Update

“Be a safe place for those on the run from the killing fields.” Isaiah 16:4

Dear Friends,

Here is a recent report from Isam Ghattas and our partners in Jordan. Isam shared with us the experience of a visiting American who was there to help them with a food distribution. This is what the American wrote:

isam dinner 2“Today, we served approximately 200 displaced Christians, all newly arrived from Iraq with just the clothes on their backs. A hot plate of rice and beans, tabouli, and a piece of chicken filled the stomachs and warmed the hearts of those in need. Looking on, I was again struck by the number of widows and children, who always bear a heavy and unfair burden from war. Following a time of prayer and delicious food, all were invited to take what they needed from tables of clothing, blankets and more. All left with a copy of The New Testament in Arabic. The kids gleefully charged the table of Christian children’s books and departed with one or more treasures clutched to their chests.

Like me, you would have admired the motivated performance of the small staff and volunteers. They also receive so much by giving a hot meal to a burdened refugee. Knowing little Arabic, I could only shake the hands of these new brothers and sisters in Christ, learn their names, and pat the shoulders of their little ones. Then on leaving, place my hand across my heart…and give them a smile to take with them. I know…had you been in my shoes, you would have also been touched in a deep and profound way.”

Isam went on to share this news with us. Reports from the fighting around Mosul in Iraq indicate that possibly 20,000 more refugees may be on the way to resource-stressed Jordan. For those of you supporting Manara International, our sincere gratitude. By God’s grace and your generosity, we hope to continue serving and encouraging all our brothers and sisters in need.

isam report 2Syria is now in its 7th year of civil war, with a total of over 400,000 dead, and 6,000,000 Syrians displaced. The end of the violence and suffering is not yet in sight. Brother Isam is now on his way to deliver much needed support for medicine and food and another $9,000 for Bibles. Recently Manara was given permission to enter the latest refugee camp in Jordan, near the Syrian border. The excitement of these stressed people in need is evident. It’s been an unusually cold winter in the desert. Yet, in the midst of this makeshift camp, these parents find a way to educate their children. Your help is invaluable to every refugee man, woman and child in this camp.

Thank you for your compassion and for your friendship. You are a constant encouragement to all at Manara. If the Lord leads you to share a special gift today to help us minister to those in need, you may send it to Hope Builders at the address below or give online on our website

Lance & Christie Thollander
Hope Builders International
PO Box 91359
Austin, TX 7870

An Exciting Opportunity with Isam Ghattas and Manara International


The Blessed Olive Tree

On his recent trip to the Holy Land, Isam Ghattas of Manara International in Jordan was continually impressed by the Olive Tree – one of God’s best blessings. Here is how he described the experience and what he decided to do about it.

“We were privileged to see the Mount of Olives, where Jesus labored in prayer His final night before Good Friday. We witnessed fields of blessing with some olive trees dating back 2,000 years to Roman rule. The olive tree with its immense natural health benefits also signifies peace and plenty. The olive tree has created a new desire in me – an idea that I pray will also inspire you.

One of our dreams at Manara International is, with your help, to plant and grow a new Mount of Olives in Jordan. One thousand blooming new olive trees in Moab, the southern region, the land of Ruth (Daniel 11:41) and an adjoining mountainous property. One thousand beautiful new olive trees to herald the coming of one thousand years of peace at the return of Our Lord. One thousand fruitful new olive trees with all their healthy benefits for people and the environment within the next 3-4 years. On the land, there are already 200 planted trees, but our aim is to plant 800 more olive trees. We also have water storage of 220 cubic meters which is ready to irrigate the olive trees.

Our cost is $60 for each olive tree. After planting these trees of peace in your name, we will send you pictures of their progress along with our gratitude for helping us achieve this vision. I thank you, and even the honey bees will thank you, for being a part of a new Mount of Olives in Moab, Jordan. Thank you once more for your support in the past, and for continuing to serve with us at Manara International. Please feel free to participate in this new green effort which we pray will bring glory to Our Lord. You can send your gifts to the Hope Builders International address below or give here on the website. Simply put Olive trees for Jordan in the memo box.

Hope Builders International
PO Box 91359
Austin, TX 78709

With grateful thanks and love in Christ,
Isam and The Manara International Team

Manara Ministries June 2015 Newsletter

Dear Friends,

Here is the most recent update from our friends in Jordan. Over the past year, more than 7000 Christian Iraqi refugees have entered Jordan seeking refuge and peace from all the horrific crimes they witnessed in Iraq. Being a refugee causes stress and hopelessness to many. They have suffered for their faith in Jesus Christ and we, as their brothers and sisters in Christ worldwide need to step up and care for them. All they want is to live an honorable and peaceful life, and watch their children grow up without the terror of war haunting them.


Dinner for Christian Iraqis

manara girl at mealThis month, Manara was able to provide over 275 people with a hot meal; rice, sauce and meat, with a drink. They were invited to gather in a large church hall and enjoy eating their meal without worry.

During the meal, a young boy about 5 years old, hesitantly walked up to the serving table and shyly stood there and asked “Can I have another piece of meat, just one?” A heart breaking scene, as many people in the world today do not need to think twice about having another piece of meat or chicken.


Gilead Summer camps have started!

manara camp sceneThe first summer camp of this year has started with great excitement and a lot of preparation. There are around 120 campers who are attending the camp and 35 volunteers who are able to serve the campers and lead them in these five days. The influence of Camp Gilead cannot be overestimated for during these summer weeks many Middle Eastern young people commit to following the Lord Jesus.

The five days of camp are full of different activities, ranging from sports, team building games, seminars, sermons and praise and worship times. For many campers this will be the first time they hear about Jesus in such a life changing way. They will be able ask questions and engage in discussions about any topic regarding the Christian faith. We pray that in this short time the campers will be able to experience the unconditional love of Jesus Christ and may they know Him as Lord and Savior. One of the wonderful facilities in Gilead camp this year is a new play ground recently built to accommodate more campers than ever before.

manara boy at mealOur partners at Manara International are working on various projects that aim to comfort and support as many Christian refugees as possible. Thank you for your compassion and for your friendship. You are a constant encouragement to all those working with Manara and the people that they serve.

If the Lord leads you to share a special gift today to help in the covering some of the operational costs of the camps and the costs of the new court that was built that would be a great help. These gifts will support them as they minister to the campers and demonstrate his love. Gifts can be sent to Hope Builders at PO Box 91359, Austin, TX 78709 or given on the HBI contribution page.

January & February News From Manara International

Matthew 5:16: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Luke 6:36: “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”

First Mobile Clinic in Erbil is Open!

ClinicWe are very happy to share this news with you! We were recently able to open a mobile clinic in Erbil. The mobile clinic has been opened this month and is ready to serve everyone who is in need of medical attention and cannot afford it. This mobile clinic contains five different medical specializations, general doctor, gynecology, pharmacy, lab and dentist. It is located near to one building where refugees are living in Erbil, Northern Iraq.

Clinic2 We thank God for his provision and we pray this clinic will be a source of comfort for those who are in desperate need.

Cold Winter in Jordan

This winter in Jordan is a very cold one, temperatures are low and many refugees are not ready to deal with this kind of weather. The weather forecast and reports warn of more snow storms to hit Jordan.
With your help, we want to continue to providing heaters, warm clothes, blankets, boots and food packages to all those who need them throughout this winter season.

Distribution Trips in Jordan

refugeesThis month, we were able to visit two different centers where a large number of Christian Iraqi refugees reside. They received a hot meal, food parcels, shoes, boots, warm winter jackets and toys for the children. Each child also received a special bag filled with various kinds of snacks.

Pray With Us:


  • Pray for peace and stability to remain in Jordan.
  • Pray with us for the King of Jordan; may God guide him and give him wisdom as he handles the situation in these tough times.

If the Lord leads you to share a special gift today to help us minister to those in need and demonstrate his love, you may send it to the address below.

Hope Builders International
PO Box 91359
Austin, TX 78709

Or give online.

Thank you for your compassion and for your friendship. You are a constant encouragement to all of us at Manara. May the God of peace be with you and those you love.

Isam Ghattas and the Manara Team

Bringing Hope to the Hopeless: A Frontline Report from Isam Ghattas

I returned recently from a trip to assess conditions of the Christian community in Erbil, northern Iraq. And I thought I was prepared. But nothing could have prepared me for the hopelessness I found when I saw it in person. It was very tough to handle.

Trip to Erbil, Iraq

15The streets of Kurdistan’s largest city are lined with children begging for money, for food, for anything to ease their suffering. Displaced families are everywhere; in tents and churches and unfinished buildings.

One thousand people were packed into one unfinished building in a mall. There was no flooring, no privacy. Makeshift wooden dividers separated families. Living in a construction site, many suffer from sinus infections and skin and eye problems. They have nothing. They share a tank of gas to cook their meager meals. They are all well educated and had built lives for themselves and their families. Now they have nothing. Two little girls… their parents were killed. Now, they hold each other and cry inconsolably. Who will care for them now? This is only one of countless stories of horror and suffering.

The Mobile Clinic Project

With so many desperate refugees, there is not nearly enough medical care. We were able to buy, refurnish, and supply a mobile clinic to provide free medical services. Each new clinic would have cost about $225,000; but we were able to find a used clinic and refurnish it with all it needs for $50,000. A doctor from Iraq has accepted to staff it and help. We have supplied it with two air conditioners and medical equipment. But there is a great need for medicine. Our goal is to have it ready by the end of November. Each mobile clinic will have a small reception area, a doctor’s room, an X-ray room, a laboratory, a dental clinic, and a pharmacy.

Trip to Bandewya

On the third day of our trip, we went to a village just a few miles from ISIS, on the other side of the Mosul dam. We had to take a security car that drove next to us and an extra van in case there was a problem with our vehicle. We were always in touch with the head security office in Erbil, and we had orders to be back in Erbil before sunset. It was a dangerous, six-hour drive.

8Bandewya is a Christian village, population 800. Many people from Mosul ran away to this village for protection from ISIS. We arrived with two trucks filled with basic necessities. We were able to distribute mattresses, warm covers for winter, food parcels, and heaters. Soon, the snows will come, threatening the lives of those who are not equipped to survive.

Distributing supplies

5The families were very thankful and appreciative; no one has ever tried to reach them before. They understood the risks we took to get there. They told us they can hear bombs exploding and the crack of rifle fire from the valley below and said they will have to flee to Erbil soon, because ISIS is getting closer.

If the Lord leads you to share a special gift today to help us minister to those in need and demonstrate his love, you may send it to Hope Builders International or give on the Contribute page.Thank you for your compassion and for your friendship. You are a constant encouragement to all of us at Manara. May the God of peace be with you and those you love.

Isam Ghattas and the Manara Team

Report From Isam Ghattas of Manara Ministries

Dear Friends,
Here is a report that we received from Isam Ghattas of Manara Ministries this week. It describes the tragic situation facing our Iraqi brothers and sisters. Please pray for them and join us as we seek support for these brethren who are suffering greatly. One particular need is to help cover the cost of a container of relief goods that is scheduled for delivery to Manara. All contributions to that end are greatly appreciated.

Lance Thollander for Hope Builders International

From Isam:

It is truly a sad and miserable time for our Christian brothers and sisters from Iraq. No one can imagine what they have been going through, they were threatened either to leave everything they ever worked for or convert to Islam. They fled from Mosul and other cities to find refuge in Erbil and Jordan. Over the past weeks, thousands of Iraqi Christians have entered Jordan and more are entering the country each day.
They have been welcomed into nine different church centers in Amman and Zarqa. On our trip as Manara Ministries, we visited our brothers and sisters in the Assyrian Church near downtown Amman. We met with 40 people from a group of 70; they seemed well educated and trying to make the best of a bad situation. Some were able come with their families while others are completely alone. They have been turned from successful, working people into people who wait for aid from others. As a result of this exile, men and women have lost everything they ever worked for, whether it was money, gold, cars, homes and even businesses. Even the children have lost their basic right to education. We served them a hot meal and drew a smile on the children’s faces by doing some face painting.

refugees 1Many churches have opened their doors to welcome them and help them with accommodations. This group of Iraqi Christians have been living in the Assyrian Church; the living and sleeping arrangements are very uncomfortable for them as they have to share their rooms with others families. Unfortunately, not all have rooms to sleep in; the church’s basement hall has also been turned into sleeping quarters. They have put up wooden dividers to separate between each area. They also share a bathroom made up of two stalls. They also shared their heartbreaking stories with us. No one has hope of ever returning back to their homeland, as one young man said “I would have never thought of leaving Iraq, now we have no place to go back to, no home, no business, no schools and no cars.

Another family recalled their heartbreaking story. With tears in her eyes, the mother was shaking as she spoke. One of her relatives was in her home garden with her two babies, when suddenly out of nowhere a missile landed and exploded tearing them to parts right before her eyes. It was a horrific scene. She and other family members had to collect their body parts and bury them. After that, she and her family fled to Jordan for safety, under attack the whole way. They made it safely but they have nothing with them only the clothes they were wearing that day.

refugees 2Almost all of them do not have clothes for the winter season. Many need basic items for their children, such as diapers and personal hygiene items. Many need medicines that they can not afford to buy. So we took this opportunity to plan our next visit according to their schedule, which was the following Sunday. They were invited to eat a hot meal by another church. So we prepared boxes of clothes enough for 170 people, specifically winter clothes, for people of all ages so that they would at least have a long sleeve shirt and a coat to keep them warm. Children also received teddy bears and toys as presents. The future is unclear; they do not know where they will go and what will happen to them. Some wish to leave to Jordan and start a new life elsewhere while others do not want to leave and hope they can build a new life here. Until they are able to make decisions, they need our help and support to live a somewhat normal life. If the Lord leads you to share a special gift today to help us minister to those in need and demonstrate his love, you may send it to the address below or give online using the website link:

Hope Builders International
PO Box 91359
Austin, TX 78709-1359

Thank you for your compassion and for your friendship. You are a constant encouragement to all of us at Manara. May the God of peace be with you and those you love.

Isam Ghattas and the Manara Team