Stephen is the wise elder of the group. At 59, he bought a ticket and came to Iraq because as he said “I HAVE to help, I need to help.” He has not just been a blessing to refugees but a huge blessing to this team and always brings a peace and encouragement when the team needs it the most. Here are Stephens thoughts on some of his experiences these last 2 weeks:
“I wonder? What do you say to a man whose lost everything? “Your Lucky,” or “It could have been worse!”
No, of course not, but he is one of the fortunate ones. He ran for his life and escaped with his family with only the clothes on their backs. They fled from their home in Syria and now live here in Kurdistan. They have very little but at least no one is trying to kill them here.
You can find them everywhere. In camps large and small, in abandoned structures, in unfinished buildings and sometimes in tents. They do the best they can, making cook stoves with concrete blocks, patching together make shift houses from scrape materials, plywood and tarps. Some add little amenities to make their desperate shelters feel more like a home. One family had a rope swing for the children. Another family planted small trees in the rocky soil that surrounded their tenuous house of canvas. I wondered, how tall will the trees get before the family has to move. They all have a story, their own tales of tragedy, and they all have one thing in common . . . THEY ALL NEED HELP!
Like Odece, the 6 year old boy born with a bad eye. Little Odece came to one of our medical clinics with his father. I noticed him right away. I watched as his father pointed at me and whispered something in the boys ear. Slowly the little man came walking toward me. Hesitantly, he reached out to shake my hand. As I took his hand in mine, he grinned. Then, I heard him say in broken English,
“Hello Sir, how are you doing?”
He was a happy little fellow with a contagious smile. Seems I got the best medicine that day.
Or like old Micah, the 76 year old Yazidie man who came to another of our clinics. The old man knew seven languages and had a smile bigger than Texas. When he came in he took my hand and would not let go.
“I once had a home,” he told me, “with family all around.”
Later I wondered, would the old gentleman live out the rest of his days in that camp? I must admit, there are times it doesn’t seem real . . . the suffering. But we have seen it with our eyes, touched and handled it with our hands. I wonder what the Lord has in store for this weary land . . . and I wonder what will become of little Odece and old Micah.”