God opened the door to partner with Toms team to do a massive distribution to an area in dire need. Because it is only 15 minutes from the front lines the need is great. Two locations 751 families – 1600 people. We were able to partner by assisting with man power in the distribution of 16 tons of flour (each family got a 120 pound bag), and in providing thousands of sanitary pads, electrolytes, and hundreds of eczema creams.
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.
Greetings from Kurdistan!
Here is a summary of what has gone on so far and what we are working towards. We continue to be blown away by the prayer support back home. We know that we are not alone and this is work you are all a part of back home through your intercession and donations. It truly is an honor serving beside so many around the world even though we have never met, we are all serving the King together. We pray Gods blessing on each of you!
We have been here for less than a month and God has opened up doors larger than we dared to dream or imagine…truly Ephesians 3:20 moments:
What we are working on currently by the grace of God:
1) We’ve been blessed with an opportunity to open a rehabilitation program for women who have been captured, raped, trafficked and then rescued from ISIS. We are currently focusing on that by furnishing the home, finding the staff & translators, and funding for the program so we can be ready to receive them in the coming weeks. The number is staggering, in the hundreds but we know God is more than able to bring healing to each and everyone no matter how horrific. GOD IS ABLE!
2) An Orphanage for younger girls affected by trauma and torture
3) We Are currently making trauma medical kits for front line Peshmerga soldiers that we have had the opportunity to train medically.
What the Lord has blessed us to be able to do already:
1) Did combat medic classes for 500 Peshmerga Soldiers and 600 Christian men joining the Peshmerga! We were able to purchase supplies to put together med kits to distribute to those who know now how to use it.
2) We were able to pray over almost every group of men that were trained.
3) Did 4 free clinics, 1 was with an incredible Pediatrician and we were able to provide prayer, medicine, diapers, and smiles to many children and their families
4) Volunteered at a camp of 12,000 Syrian refugees and helped distribute clothing to hundreds of them.
5) Met and ministered to a group of widows whose husbands were killed by ISIS. They fled with their 11 children and are living in an abandoned building. God opened the door to bring hundreds of diapers, food, and funds. We don’t always give away money, but we felt the Lord leading us to in this case. When women become widows here, its not just there husbands that are killed it is also their livelihood and income.
6) Met another group of refugees in abandoned, unfinished buildings- 15 families- God opened the door to bring blankets, shoes, mattress pads, clothes, marbles, toys, laundry soap, and formula and then play for hours with the children. The midwife on the team was able to see a pregnant women and treat a sick baby.
What you can specifically do to help us:
1) Pray for:
-the people affected by this violence and hatred
-us to be fully submitted to the Lord and eyes continually on Him
-health for the team (especially Amanda and Judah)
-help to make the right choice on vehicles
-wisdom, protection and favor in our coming decisions regarding the women and girls
-grace to chose the right staff to assist us
2.) Contact us if you feel strongly led to be a volunteer. We will also pray with you and see what openings are available.
3.) Donate any amount the Lord leads, even $5 has bought 100 diapers that we have given out. The donate tab is above.
Thank you all for your continued support. We will work on doing better at updating you all and posting pictures as soon as we are able to make them secure.
Take comfort in this verse with us as we pray it and believe for it for the women and children :
“He heals the brokenhearted And binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147
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.”
We have made it through what for most of us was probably the craziest, most harassment filled week of our lives to get here. I can’t fit it all in here but to sum up: 7 missed flights, lost baggage, throwing up on the plane, exploding baby poop diapers, being questioned for HOURS to make sure we aren’t funding ISIS, 30 hours of travel turning into 144 hours of travel and most spent standing with our 26 totes of supplies at ticket counters. But as one team member says below..what the enemy meant for evil God turned to good. He allowed it all because He is sovereign, good, and wants us so badly to look like him and allows the refining fires to come so we can truly abide in Him. And abiding in Him IS the mission.
“Most of the team had not met each other before meeting up at the airport and right from the beginning the Lord set out to show us His ways are not our ways, only four of us made it onto our first flight, the other half the team had to wait till the next day and catch a flight. After a combined 7 flights missed one team made it to the destination two days delayed and the second team 4 days delayed. What may have been intended for evil was used to build a team commended to one another and tested true in our peace in the Lord.” -KD
I believe that through all that we were able to stay in peace because of your faithful prayers. Thank you thank you thank you to our praying team mates all over the world! We have been on ground for 15 days now and have been blessed to do 4 clinics, 2 distributions, and met with several widows. We will share pictures and stories from each outreach and the team in the next post coming tomorrow.
Prayer needs for this week: to find 2 houses for ministry, an affordable van, and Gods constant guidance and peace.
Over 400 pounds of supplies for the refugees are packed and ready to accompany the team! The supplies will be split between refugee relief and morale/care bags for the troops. Electrolytes, eczema creams, Essential Oils, baby rash powders, jackets, and other medical/nutritional aids are just some of the supplies we are able to bring thanks to all the support. We will be purchasing the other necessary items like food, clothing, heaters, diapers etc in country for refugees. The team is busy preparing for this next deployment and would appreciate your prayers for every detail including grace to spend needed time in communion with the Lord, packing the right things, taking care of bills at home, spending time with loved ones etc Everyone is excited and at peace with the upcoming work the Lord has set before us. We just wanted to take a moment to thank you all for your prayers and keep you in the loop. I’ll leave you with the verse that brought me sweet hope this morning in the midst of such evil of today: “Do not fret because of evildoers, nor be envious of the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like grass, and wither as the green herb. Trust in the Lord and do good; Dwell in the land and feed on His Faithfulness.” Psalm 37
This 2nd deployment has been much larger and in depth than our first whirlwind one. We were waiting on approvals from the Kurdish government and making sure everything was ok. We waited for 3 months and then got an oK and a request to be there in a couple weeks! So here goes another whirlwind but everything is going smoothly and our departure is coming up quickly. We want to take a moment and thank you all for supporting this for the last 6 months and give you a quick update so you know how to pray if you feel led.
Our team of 10 has a threefold plan: 1. We will continue the refugee relief as we did last time with clinics, distribution of needed supplies, and offering prayer. 2. This time around we are partnering with two other organizations to assist in the housing and care of women and children recently released from sexual slavery. This matter is very close to our hearts. We understand the difficulties that may be faced in housing and ministering to people coming out of such horrors but we are very thankful and motivated to move into this arena. Four of our team members are attending training on helping women with severe PTSD and we are prayerfully pursuing avenues to make the home as tranquil as possible. The groundwork is being laid and we plan to be able to open our the rehabilitation-house for treatment and assistance very soon.
3. We are humbled and inspired by the sacrifice and bravery of the Peshmerga and hope to bless them with morale bags and lifesaving medical instruction from our team medics. The morale bags include things like electrolytes, gum, aspirin etc. We will be making medic bags which include CAT tourniquets, combat gauze etc and distributing both as we thank them and pray for them.
It is such an honor serving with all of you. We read and pray for every person who sends us a note, letter, or donation. God bless you all!
HOW YOU CAN HELP:
1.PRAYER: for those being persecuted and enslaved, those displaced, the brave Kurds fighting on the front lines, and our team.
2.SUPPORT: We currently need assistance to sponsor team members for deployment. You can financially support at the “donate/contact us” tab. Please annotate SPONSOR if you’d like to support a missionary going. If it is not directed toward that we send all donations directly to the refugee relief.
3. PERSONNEL: If you have a strong foundation upon Jesus, relevant skills and feel led to help physically, please contact us at email@example.com