A Fresh Start

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by Impact Middle East leader in Jordan

Johari*, a Palestinian, is married to an ISIS fighter. Her husband, because of his criminal background, had found a cause in ISIS; he was thirsty for the riches and sex that ISIS members seek, under the guise of religion.

Johari's husband is not only a criminal but is also wicked. He made his wife and two daughters watch pornographic movies with him and insisted they act out scenes to fulfill his sexual desires.

Johari heard about our church’s monthly meetings for women and began attending them. She also began coming for counseling. Here she was empowered to say no to her husband’s desire that she and their daughters watch pornographic movies with him. Initially the husband was enraged and hit Johari over the head with a large plate.

Johari continues to come for counseling and at times brings her daughters. She also occasionally attends church and has initiated legal procedures to divorce her husband. The counselor is helping Johari to find a fresh start and hope in life, to build her self-respect and to help her understand that her value comes from God, not from the value placed on her by the culture around her.

An Impact Middle East church in Jordan ministers to Arab women who are physically and emotionally abused, working to nurture, care, and build them up so they become healthier in Arab society. This ministry sees approximately 20 women each week, primarily through one-on-one meetings. Some of the women’s husbands are active members of ISIS and other extremist groups.

*fictitious name

Drawn by Peace and Love

Story from an Impact Middle East pastor in Amman, Jordan

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B, a young Iraqi Christian-background man, had attended other churches in the past. He had observed individuals in those churches who lived in ways he felt were very contrary to Christian beliefs. He decided he didn’t need the church if it was composed of hypocrites.
 
A pastoral team from our church visited B at home and suggested he visit our church just once to give it a chance. (His wife was serving there as a volunteer among the women.) After his visit, he could decide whether our church was like the others he had observed in the past.
 
A surprising thing happened after his first visit. B came back again … and again … and again. He was drawn to the peace and love he felt in this place. It was unlike anything he had experienced before. Eventually, he accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior. Today B is serving as a volunteer at the church in the sports outreach and youth ministries.

To draw in more Iraqi youth, B suggested we start a soccer league just for them. Using soccer, volunteers from the church spend 400 hours each year sharing the message of reconciliation with coaches and players. Those who become believers are discipled and encouraged to attend youth meetings where the focus is entirely spiritual.

From Making Soap to Sharing Christ

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Report from Impact Middle East leader in Jordan

“G” and her family were from Nineveh, located on the outskirts of Mosul in modern-day Iraq. Life there was very difficult. “G’s” father and two brothers were killed in the violence. Her husband and his father were traveling by car when terrorists ran them off the road. The father was killed and “G’s” husband sustained injuries he suffers from to this day. When she fled Iraq, she had to leave her mother and sister behind. “G” and her family were very bitter. They questioned whether God was good and why He would allow their suffering.

“G," her husband, their two children and her mother-in-law came to Jordan in September 2016. Her husband knew one person in Marka, a district of Amman, and that person helped them find a place to live. One Sunday “G” and her family attended an Impact Middle East partner church in Marka. After a short time, “G” started to work in the soap room, part of the church's "N" project which employs displaced refugees. Her husband also was employed at the church, managing the snack bar.

“G” and her husband were invited to attend Bible studies at the church, one for men and one for women. The groups met once a week and went through a book about how to become a Christian. They also received a book with Bible stories to read daily.

“G” and her husband started learning to study the Bible and talked at home about what they were learning. “G’s” excitement spread, and eventually her mother-in-law started reading the Bible.

“G’s” children had seen all the killing and war in Iraq. When they arrived in Jordan they were severely traumatized. They started attending the church’s school – Good Shepherd School. At first, they didn’t want to be with other kids. But the school welcomed and embraced them, and they started to change. Everyone at the church has become like family to the children, their parents, and their grandmother.

“G” has found hope and life in Jesus. She puts her life and family in God’s hands. She now believes God had a purpose in bringing her to Jordan: to teach her to keep her eyes on Him no matter what happens. She is learning to love God more and more deeply.

“G” wants everyone to know that God loves them, that He is good and that they can trust Him no matter what they have been through. Now, instead of making soap in the soap room, “G” goes to visit refugees every morning to share with them the life she has discovered in Christ.

Not Just Sitting and Waiting

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Story from Impact Middle East leader in Jordan

He was constantly harassed and threatened by Muslims for being a Christian. Robert, a 23-year-old barber, lived in Kirkuk, Iraq. In September 2017 he left his family behind and came to Jordan alone. (Robert’s family members were also persecuted. His brother and sister had to leave school. But the family decided to stay in Iraq until his father retires and receives a pension from his job.)
 
Robert is involved in the “N” Project at an Impact Middle East partner church in Amman. He teaches classes for the barber shop and trains others for handcrafts. He is also part of the Discipleship Team that meets daily to pray and learn Bible stories. The team visits other Iraqi refugee families to share what they have studied.
 
Robert thinks the best thing about the “N” Project is that it gives people something to do with their time besides just sitting at home and waiting. In addition to working on the handcrafts, it teaches them to use their extra time to study the Bible and grow in their relationship with Christ.
 
The “N” Project
Iraqi refugees in Jordan are not allowed to work. As they wait to immigrate to their new home countries, these people are left with wounds of past trauma and no way to earn a living or provide for their families. The “N” Project, part of an NGO started by an Impact Middle East partner church in Amman, Jordan, has given Iraqi refugees an opportunity to join together in community to create handcrafts to sell and to receive livelihood training.
 
The project’s name is based on the ن symbol, pronounced “noon.” This symbol, which stands for “Nazarene,” was used by ISIS to identify Christians. Christian homes were marked on the outside by ISIS with a large painted ن. Iraqi refugees have taken this symbol of their persecution and identity and have turned it into a symbol of faith and a reminder to pray for the persecuted church.

The Newest Students

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Report from Good Shepherd School, Amman, Jordan

Danella and Angella are some of the newest students to join the Good Shepherd School (part of an IME partner church in Amman, Jordan). They are nine years old and from the Mosul area of Iraq. They came to Jordan four years ago when ISIS invaded northern Iraq. They learned about the school just four months ago.
 
The first day they attended the school they cried all day. Having been through the traumas carried out by ISIS, they were afraid to talk to anyone, either in class or on the playground. They joined the “Love” class taught by Miss "N," who made a special plan for their academic progress as well as their social progress. The girls didn’t know Arabic or English since they were from the part of Iraq that speaks Ashuri, and they had never been to school in Iraq. Miss "N" and the school principal, while visiting the girls' home, talked with their parents about how they could help the girls at home. For the first few months, Miss "N" sent a report home every day for the parents to see the progress the girls were making at school.

Now, the girls can read and write both English and Arabic and have made lots of new friends at the school. At home, their parents see a noticeable difference in them. The girls love school and can’t wait to go every day.

The Good Shepherd School ministers specifically to Iraqi refugee children who need a place of security and stability after fleeing very traumatic circumstances.