In a few days, I along with my team will set out for another missionary venture into Iraq, where the people are being terrorized by ISIS. This terrorist group is evil because it is based on the religion of Islam. In saying this, I also want to caution you that as Christians, though we may hate the religion, we should never hate the Muslim people. They are deceived, and we must have compassion on them knowing that the only way they can be free is through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Throughout Iraq, ISIS has forced people out of their neighbourhoods, and many of the displaced have come to the city of Erbil. The Erbil refugee crisis presents us with a wonderful opportunity to share the Gospel. There are many organizations which call themselves “Christian,” but they are not evangelistic. They give aid, and that is good, but the most important thing is to give people the Gospel. When people have aid in the form of food, they will eat and get healthier, but they will eventually die, and too often without Christ. We, however, give both aid and the Gospel so that their bodies and souls will be healed.
Getting the “Word” Out
One of the ways we witness is to go from house to house, sit down with families for about thirty minutes, and explain to them the grace of God. We tell them that America can’t help them, the Church can’t help them, but Jesus can. It is as if they are sinking in the sand and the only hand that can reach out and pull them out is Jesus’ hand. We explain how salvation is purely by faith, not works; there is nothing they can do to “earn” their salvation. Faith by grace is the only way. When we finish talking with families, most of them are genuinely happy because we have given them hope.
Along with the Gospel, we also give aid to the poor and sick. Whatever their needs – food, medicine – we do our best to get them the help they need. Our goal is quality rather than quantity; it is not about seeing how many people we can help in order to boast about numbers, but giving each individual exactly what he or she needs.
Others in Need of Aid
Another group of people we minister to is the Syrian Kurds who fled from the city of Kobani (in Syria). There are about a thousand Syrian Kurdish families, and no one is helping them but us. The problem is that each family has six to eight members, some even more. That’s roughly 7,000 to 8,000 people we are ministering to.
We are looking to purchase as many food parcels as possible and let the local church distribute them. We are also purchasing as many sets of audio Bibles as we can and passing them out as fast as possible. If we give them away in three days, I’ll get another supply and give those away. If those go quickly, I’ll get another few hundred. I’m praying that God will supply us with all the audio Bibles we need just as He provided the oil for the widow during the time of Elisha (2 Kings 4:1-7). By giving the people aid and the Gospel, they can see for themselves the love of God in action.
Another goal of ours is to get people healthy food, particularly fruit. Too often aid groups will give the people sugar, but I don’t like this because it gives the refugees diabetes. So yes, these organizations give aid, but it is not always “good” aid. This is why I will be meeting in January with a ministry in America in an effort to get healthy food to the refugees.
The doors are open to reach the Kurds with the Gospel. Because they are Muslim, many “Christian” ministries don’t reach out to them. But on the other hand, because they can’t read Arabic, they can’t read the Quran. One of our goals is to get Bibles to the Kurds in their own language, so please be praying for this crucial need.
God is Sovereign
One of the reasons Christian ministries don’t share the Gospel is that they know many in the Middle East are hostile to the name of Jesus and fear that by telling about Jesus, they will be thrown out of the city where they are working. However, they need to remember that God is sovereign, and that if they are kicked out of one city, so long as the Lord is opening the door, they should go to the next city. Ministries often have a limited view of God’s sovereignty, but we all need to believe that God’s sovereignty is unlimited.
For instance, too many Christians keep their identities secret because they fear repercussions. I, however, never hide my identity; I believe Christians need to be open about who they are. A while back, a friend and I went to Jordan. For whatever reason, he was turned back at the border, but I was allowed to enter. God was sovereign, and His plan was for me to share the Gospel in Jordan. God is the one who opens doors to opportunities and sends us where He wants us to be.
And right now, the door to reaching the Kurds – as well as other people groups – is wide open. But, as Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few” (Matthew 9:37). We must have more workers. This is why I try to encourage the local churches to evangelize among the Kurds and other Muslims. Our team can’t do it all by ourselves. When I’m not in Iraq, I do a lot of work by phone which I call “administrative.” I make a lot of arrangements, but I can’t be there to share the Gospel. The ministry goes on and physical needs are being met, but not always the sharing of the Gospel. This is why I need you to pray for God to give boldness to the local Church that they may bring the Gospel to the lost.
A Final Word
In the final analysis, it’s all about people getting saved. Just having people raise their hands, as they do in many churches in the West, is no guarantee they are saved. I want to see people get saved. I want to bring Christ to the refugees in Iraq, and I ask for your prayers in achieving this.
Please continue to remember our requests and our team in your prayers as we partner to spread the Gospel in such a time as this.