I wasn’t ready for this. The sobbing cries of brokenness and heart ache . . . but there it was, starring me in the face.
The mission that day was supposed to be a simple one. It was reconnaissance. The objective was to locate refugee families living in unfortified structures along a certain road, survey their needs, and offer minor medical care if needed. They wouldn’t be hard to find, just look for blue tarps. You find a blue tarp here and chances are you’ll find people living there. The day went well and proceeded as planned. We met and visited with the families, all of whom were in need of one thing or another. But of all the calls we made that day, one stood out to us above the rest. It was the one the team now calls, “the widows”.
They lived in an unfinished six story building. No walls, just floors and the pillars that stood between them, mere skeletons of cement and concrete blocks. We could see children playing there, in a landscape of rocks and trash, broken concrete and rebar steel. By the time we reached the building more children had gathered, a phenomenon that continued throughout the day.
While playing there with the kids, I kept looking at the stairway that led up to where the family lived. Made of concrete with no handrails, the steps were to narrow, to steep and hard. It bothered me to see the little ones running up and down them until I realized, this was the least of their problems.
At the top of the stairs stood a woman, dressed all in black with a look of sorrow in her face. When her eyes met with ours, she motioned for us to come in. There inside the shelter we encountered four more women, all in the same kind of dress and with same expressions upon their face. Through our team mate and interpreter we learned the household consisted of one man (who was out working) one grandmother, four women (three had lost their husbands to the terrorist) and eleven beautiful children. The women’s husbands were shot in the head, killing not just their husbands but also their livelihood.
We had already heard the stories of how Daesh (ISIS) murders men in front of the families, takes young women and girls, then steals everything. In this way the families are destroyed and the ones left alive are devastated. Hmm . . . an enemy, who steals, kills and destroys, where have we heard that before?
Just a few minutes into our visit and while conversing with the women, something happened. They began to cry! I saw waves of pain well up in their eyes and a flood of tears stream down their cheeks. I wasn’t ready for this. The sobbing cries of brokenness and heart ache . . . but there it was, staring me in the face.
Kay stepped up and put her arm around one of the women. They sank to the floor and cried together. I placed my hand on the shoulder of the woman closest to me. The interpreter too felt great compassion for them; I could see it in his face, in his tears. Naturally, we prayed for them, it was the only thing we could do. Slowly, the room grew quiet, the crying ceased and the tears relented. Now, in this land there is a tradition. Never make a promise you can’t keep! We made a promise that day, we would be back with help.
As we walked away, I was thinking. We had nothing in our backpacks to fix that problem. No oils or ointments to relieve that kind of pain. The wounds are too deep, the scars will never heal. Then I remembered the old, weeping prophets cry, “Is there no balm in Gilead, Is there no physician there?” A smile crossed my face, my stride grew a little longer, “Yes!” I sang and His name is Jesus. He is their answer, He is their only hope.
We kept our promise. Believers, hearing of our encounter with the widows, sent gifts to bless them. Those gifts were hand delivered in Jesus’ Name. We have also followed up with them, delivering diapers, propane, medical items, etc. Members of the team have also sat and talked to them about their families, their traditions, their beliefs. They were so thankful. “No one else cared enough to ask us these things,” they said.
As we listened about their culture and asked more about their stories, the women shared of one of their friends who was taken by ISIS, raped 12 times by different men, one after the other and bled to death. Another was taken and they do not know her fate. The Lord has allowed us to befriend and minister to these widows. They have been through so much trauma, but it is unthinkable to have endured what fate some of their friends and relatives have The Lord has been gracious to give us the local contacts and ability to start a program to house and rehabilitate some of these women, like those the widows spoke of, who have endured repeatedly, what no women should ever have to experience even once. These women have been recently released by various means from enslavement from the deep darkness that is ISIS. We are currently furnishing the house and have agreed to a 6 month initial lease. We are working to open the home to them as soon as possible to deliver trauma counseling, medical aid, child care, and other areas to support their rehabilitation from such horrific experiences. If you’d like to support this home or sponsor a woman to go through the program please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or donate at the donate tab above.