Crossing the Bridge to New Life

A little over a year ago, the world witnessed efforts to rescue the thousands of desperate ethnic Iraqi people known as the Yazidi. Some 40,000 Yazidi had been driven by ISIS to Mt. Sinjar in the historic area of Nineveh in the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq. ISIS is attempting to “purify” such Islamic groups as the Yazidi from the influence of both Zoroastrianism and Christianity.

A young man and his wife in Iraq have quite recently been added to our team there. They have been visiting smaller villages in Iraq and have discovered large numbers of Yazidi refugees. An estimated 70,000 Yazidi reportedly now live in the 5-6 villages where our newest team member has been distributing relief supplies and literature. Six very new house groups are currently meeting in the villages.

A young Yazidi refugee child who attends one of the house meetings came forward with this drawing. He interpreted the drawing to our workers like this. He used to live in a Yazidi village symbolized by the green trees. But then one day he met Jesus and his life was changed. He crossed the “bridge” in the drawing and found new life in Jesus, symbolized by the cross near the bridge. 

By J.C.

A Middle East Miracle

Hanan* was diagnosed with cancer while in her early twenties while living in northern Iraq. The news devastated her family. They went to several doctors and learned that she had to go through a long and painful treatment process. Feeling hopeless, they cried out to God and contacted Pastor Wael* to come to pray for their daughter. Pastor Wael responded to their request and visited them along with another elder from the church. Entering Hanan's room, he saw that she was too sick to even get out of bed. It was a heart-breaking situation, but Pastor Wael prayed fervently for Hanan's healing. He left the house saddened by Hanan's grave condition, and didn’t hear from the family for several months. 

After about a year, Pastor Wael attended a conference of evangelicals and was surprised by a beautiful young woman who approached him. "Do you recognize me? Do you remember who I am?" she asked. He confessed he could not remember her. She smiled and said: "I am Hanan who had cancer, and you came and prayed for me. I am completely healed and cancer-free!" Pastor Wael's eyes filled with tears of joy as he praised the Lord for his miraculous work of healing in Hanan’s life. We believe that Jesus, who healed in the past, is alive and continues to heal today: "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever" (Hebrews 13:8)

*Names were changed to protect the identity of the persons in the story.

Please pray for us

A leg of our journey to encourage IME workers in the Middle East took us to the city of Erbil, the provincial capital of Kurdistan, the semi-autonomous region of northern Iraq, about 50 miles from the ISIS-held city of Mosul.

While sitting at the breakfast table in our hotel dining room one morning, three young men came in and took a table near us. We were the first and only table occupied, so we had the only usual basket of Middle Eastern pita bread. One of the young men approached us and asked “may we have bread?” (it struck me as a question about more than just physical bread. The disciples informed Jesus that there was only five loaves of bread and two fish to serve 5,000. Jesus replied: “You give them something to eat.”)

A conversation between our two tables ensued. “Where are you from?” “What are you doing here?” and so on. We acknowledged that we were Americans, visiting friends and encouraging churches in the region. And what about them? It turned out they were students from nearby Iran, in Erbil to take the test required for admission to graduate school. They hailed from Urmia, an Iranian city bordering five nations and the ancient home of  Zoraster.

Our leader, conversant in Arabic, joined us at our table and we continued the conversation with our new-found friends. It turned out they were ethnically Azerbajani – the people group to which our leader’s adopted daughter belonged (could this be just coincidence?).

 The Iranian young men anxiously volunteered to host us if we ever had opportunity to visit their homeland. We exchanged email addresses with a couple of them, and asked if we could pray with them about the exam on the following day. They readily agreed, and the six of us bowed our heads together in an Iraqi dining room to ask God to give them success in their exams. The next morning as they hurried out the door to the exam, they again said, “please pray for us!” Returning that afternoon, they reported feeling particularly confident about their exam experience. 

By J.C.