To understand this story you’ll need to understand a concept we use in the pursuit of our work here in Iraq. Its origin is the teaching of Jesus Himself.
Mt. 5:43-48 – Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? 47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? 48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
Our simplified application of this teaching would be, We bribe no man to come to Christ, our help and our expression of mercy is not conditional. It’s meant to point to the same unconditional love that the Father as bestowed on the world. Pastor Layth Ibrahim and Praise Chapel Dohuk have become notorious here for laboring to bring relief to the IDPs and Refugees of our region.
One of our lead young men of the church here in Duhok sat with me today and over a cup of tea he shared concerning the work he has been doing and the process revealed what it’s cost him to do this. This young man is proficient in several languages. Because of this he had a job with a NGO here that paid him well. About $1500 per month which is a good salary in the region right now, but it would require that he move to the other side of Kurdistan. His burden is for the people here and for our church. He quite the NGO to work a job here for a meager $300 a month. This is a substantial drop in an economic depression that has come to Kurdistan because of the war with ISIS. Just for your understanding, ISIS is known here as, the Dash. He has gone into several very dangerous areas to bring relief to the families in desperate need, food and supplies for they and their children, diapers for their babies. This kindness warmly received by some has put him in danger and has been rejected by others. One family which received his help was cast out by their family. A member of this family actually called him and asked him, “Are you part of an evangelical church?” When he said yes, they warned him to stay away from them and that the Dash were looking for him. Our brother said, we didn’t ask your family to join our church or accept out beliefs. We simply want to help you. The reason there was such a reaction is the fact that many Muslims and Yezedis are coming to Christ not because our humanitarian efforts have in some way bribed them but because they are seeing the drastic difference in our world view and they are sickened by the violence and bloodshed. They come because they are beginning to see the light of hope in Christ and hope is something that is in short supply in Iraq these days. This young man, this sincere believer in Jesus Christ is letting his light shine so others can see it, he has sacrificed the advantages he could be enjoying and has esteemed the riches of Christ to be greater instead. Its been said, “Men are like the gods they serve.” What a stark contrast between this man’s faith and the dominant religions of the region. This is what our work here in Iraq stands for and is producing. I would love to reveal this young man’s name too you but if I did it would only put him in more danger. I’m just proud to say, he’s one of ours and just one of many the Lord is raising up to build a better tomorrow.