VOM Australia travelled to Iraq to meet with and encourage some of the thousands of believers who have been forced to flee destruction in Mosul and surrounding areas. Our representative reports on a distribution of Bibles and Life Packs in one village.
I watched as the truck carrying 300 VOM Iraq Life Packs slowly navigated the extremely rocky and at times muddy road into a Christian village in desperate need of aid.
In just a couple of months, winter will descend on the village, cutting them off from all access to shops as the roads become completely inaccessible. Extra supplies to get through the winter months are always welcome, but even more so this year.
This isolated village has opened its arms and heart to receive many Christian refugees as they fled Mosul, providing them with shelter and comfort.
“It’s just the right Christian thing to do,” said one of the village elders. “Showing the love of Christ to our fellow brothers and sisters, who have suffered so much, is not a problem to us. We must help them.”
We heard many similar statements from villagers who had rolled up their sleeves and rearranged their homes and church halls to accommodate their fellow believers, who lost everything at the hands of the IS insurgents.
Radiant hopeOn reaching the church where the distribution was to take place, we saw for the first time the faces of those who had reached the safety of this village. Of course, some were saddened, but many were radiant with hope. Their excitement and smiles beamed their thanks.
Despite their desperation, no one raced to grab what they could for themselves from the truck. Instead, the village elders had carefully prepared a full list of the families to ensure everyone would receive a Life Pack. It was incredible to see their patience in the face of such need.
After initial speeches of welcome, the distribution began. Names of the recipients were called out one by one, and a member of each family came forward to receive their Life Pack. Two soldiers willingly unloaded the truck as the packs were handed out.
Love for the WordOnce each family had a Life Pack, they moved to a dedicated table to receive a Bible. Two elderly gentlemen approached me and, through a translator, asked, “May we have a copy of the Holy Book?” It was an honour to provide them with God’s Word. I was moved by their deep respect for the Holy Book as they picked their copy up and kissed the cover, realising many refugees had escaped with minimal belongings.
I noticed an older man helping the soldiers unload the truck. He was a short man and appeared accustomed to physical work as he was happy to help lift the life packs. Signing to him that I would like to take a photo, he broke into a beaming smile. Undoing his shirt, he reached inside to pull out the children’s Bible he had just received and was carrying close. He was so proud of his Bible and clearly delighted to be photographed with it. I wondered whether he was planning to read the stories to his grandchildren.
We were able to interview many people who were willing to share their experiences. A special DVD will be made available soon to share their stories and show how your support has helped our family in Iraq.
Each believer we spoke to described their flight to safety with many examples of how difficult it was. However, they never once denied Christ, despite the incredible pressure and terror they endured. Here in the village, with their families beside them and safe from IS, they felt the comfort of God from the believers. Together, they boldly proclaimed Christ as their Saviour.