There are two stories that I’ve been told since our arrival that have given me pause for consideration and frankly have had a profound impact on my perception of the situation here in the region. The plight of both Syrian refugees and Iraq’s IDPs is well documented but these two stories give a more up close and personal view often lost in overwhelming abundance of publicized horrors suffered at the hands of the so called Islamic State. These stories are short and to the point. Here is the first, I’ll share the second in my next post.
This story concerns a young Muslim man, a Syrian Kurd, who escaped from Syria with his family to one of the many refugee camps here in Kurdistan of Iraq. They took shelter in one of the large refugee camps that we work in. He and his family were sitting outside their tent when LaDawna McKinnis and Pastor Layth passed by. LaDawna greeted them and they responded by inviting Pastor Layth and her into the tent. In the course of their conversation they shared the Gospel with them and the young man received Christ as his savior. He’s now a regular at our church in Duhok.
Pastor Jim Clark and I were invited to the home of some of our members for a wonderful dinner the ladies had prepared. They had also invited this young Kurdish man. What makes this story so powerful for me is the fact that it was not told deliberately but was just part of a casual conversation where life’s experience and realities simply bled through. Our conversation had quite naturally turned to the ongoing conflict in the region which is never far from the thoughts of all who live here. We were discussing the mindset of radical Islam which is often incomprehensible to the rational mind. Rape, torture, murder, pillage and unimaginable cruelty, all in the name of God with the demand that their “Religion” be respected. As we spoke, our young man spoke of what he and his family had witnessed while making their escape from Syria.
He told of people being interrogated at checkpoints or at random on the streets. The Terrorists would demand their identity papers. If their last name indicated they were Shia, Yezedi, or Christian, they were executed on the spot. Men, women, children, murdered for no other reason than their non Sunni name. Killed! Not even allowed to leave …
It’s one thing to read or hear of these atrocities on the news but the full impact of their reality struck me as this story just leaked out over dinner. There was no attempt at drama or emphasis; it was the almost every day casualness of it, the tearless, matter of fact, helplessness of shell-shocked incomprehension that slapped my brain into a somber state of sobriety of awareness … hell and all its fury is raging, it’s minions unrestrained running amok just across the border a short distance away.
It’s an ugly and brutal reality for our people here. It’s a reality that for those who are caught up it there’s no running away from it, no place to hide. There’s a battle going on here that we cannot afford to lose.
Standby, more to come,
Jack, in Iraq