AN UPDATE FROM PASTOR LAYTH IBRAHIM
The situation in Iraq is not good. Politicians have become thieves rapping the country. Many things here make family life very difficult to continue. Most of the people here haven’t received their monthly salaries. Some of them haven’t been paid at all for the last 5 months. Many business owners and those who have the money have pulled their cash from the market for fear of a change in the political situation. Large numbers of our labor forces are without work. Many companies and investors have shut down their businesses or pulled out altogether. People are barely able to buy their food and basic necessities.
Ten days ago, the Islamic State Militia attacked the city of Tel Asquf which is 25 Km (16 miles) from Duhok beside Al Qoosh. There was a large battle there and we lost a number of our Kurdish Peshmerga fighters. When these things happened, it makes all the people here crazy with fear. This starts them thinking about emigration. This is a huge concern for me which makes me very sad. This issue of immigration (people wanting to flee the country) makes any progress in our work very slow. For these people, whom I follow, the ministry and the work of the Kingdom is not the first priority. It’s become very difficult to work with families when they don’t have hope for the future.
Today I have more than six people interested to training them in particular. Dr. Sabah & his wife Ayda / Yohanna / Ammer / Oliver / Jeelan / Mazen & his wife Suzan / Faris & his Wife Layla.
These people are with me most the time. I’m trying to build up their lives and impart to them a Gospel Vision to redeem this land. Once they have it they’ll work from the depths of their hearts for the Kingdom. But sometimes I can feel their insecurities and fears, that they’re afraid to continue here. I understand that they’re very tired and insecure as a result of the situation, this month even the government paid only Half the salary for their employees in Kurdistan.
I’m sharing this with you to let you know what is going, and how difficult the ministry and work over here has become. For those of us living here it’s like our world has been turned upside down.
When the vision came to my mind to build the multi purpose building we were encouraged. God had favored us with people from the US willing to help us to prepare everything to fulfill the work. He put it on their hearts to send the funds to help us. So far we’ve built the first phase of our project. Now we are awaiting Our Lord to continue the work and I believe he will do it, But for now, since ISIS and the fighting here in Iraq and Syria everything seems to have just dried up. We haven’t the money to buy the materials we need or to hire the workers. There are people right here who could desperately use the employment we could provide and we desperately need to finish the Worship Hall and the second floor.
I’ve also had to sell my car and the van we owned for Ilham’s daycare center which we use to generate income over here. That’s also dropped off because of the current crisis in our economy.
About the Army of Kurdistan (the Peshmerga). We and our people volunteer to go to the Hospital and donate our Blood for them (1 Bottle each). Its our Honor to do this because they protect us all the time. Too often they’re killed on the front line. Kurdistan has suffered a large number of casualties fighting against the radical Islamic threat against Christians, Muslims and Yezedes. We as a church have also helped the Families of these Soldiers with money and food. I try to tell our people that our country is very important for our future we must stand by it and we need to pray for it.
I try to build the Faith in them to not leave Iraq or Kurdistan. How can we win if we don’t stay? Last Sunday I brought a whiteboard to the front and wrote down everything God has done for us and then started to write, “What is our response?” “What should we do to fulfill the Great Commandment here?” I asked them the question, “If we want to reach, tell and win 1000 people to Jesus, what should we do?”
COMMENTARY: JACK HARRIS
I’ve shared pastor Layth’s letter so that our people here, that’s you, can get a feel for the pressures our brethren in Kurdistan are living under. We hear lots of talk these days about persecuted Christians. May I remind you that our brethren are chief among them. Most have fled to Kurdistan for safety losing everything. Many of the persecuted Yezedi’s you’ve heard of in the news are now in our church or touched by our ministry.
Just this week I was contacted by a brother all the way over in New Zealand who had contact with a member of Layth’s church. He’d heard of the economic sufferings of this family and felt he had to inform us of this brothers need. He was well meaning, of course, but I had to explain that we have a whole church in the same condition right now plus we do our part to relieve the Iraqi IDPS and Syrian Refugees we’re in contact with.
The problems in Iraq, Syria and the Middle East haven’t just gone away, they continue to escalate. Just because there’s a lull in news reportage doesn’t mean it’s any less volatile it’s just off the TV radar until something sensational happens that they can glom onto.
Soon there’s going to be a major push to take back Mosul, now the strategic stronghold of the wild dogs of ISIS. When that battle comes it will be brutal!
The instability of the region has had a devastating impact on the economy of Kurdistan. There are few resources right now and the people have little to support their church. They’re willing but they have nothing right now.
We need your help to stand by our brethren, to support and uphold them through this crisis time. For those who’ve followed our work, you know that I’ve been telling you for the last twelve years that these days were coming when we’d see a division of Iraq. I also told you that there’s another side to this with a positive outcome if we do our part. Not because I’ve said it but because God’s Word declares it.
WE ARE IN THE VERY HEART OF THE STORM!
If we stay the course we’ll have a powerful center and presence in the region. We’re already well on our way but we’re far from finished. We need your help, our people need your help and we need it now. Please get involved today and support our people and workers in Iraq.