Christian & Muslim neighbors share meager resources in Erbil, Iraq - where is the U.S. church?

by Joni B. Hannigan , Editorial Staff |

(UNHCR/K. Brooks)A family of five recently fled fighting in the northern city of Mosul and took shelter in a garage provided by friends. Soon, however, they will have nowhere to go.

ERBIL, Kurdistan, Iraq (Chrsistian Examiner) -- Deborah receives an urgent request and considers whether she can fulfill it from her own family's resources.

One of the nuns at her church told her they need beds for "old-aged people to protect them from the cold" of sleeping on the floor.

"I'm going tomorrow to buy them," Deborah told Christian Examiner.

Yesterday it was buying baby clothes, "carry coats," beds and blankets for two women who are expecting newborns.

In Erbil, private citizens -- Christians and Muslims alike -- are dipping into their own meager resources, even in these uncertain times, to help the 250,000 Christian refugees forced from their homes, with many having to resort to living on the streets. They have been persecuted for professing their faith.

"Everyone is trying their best," Deborah said. But people are frightened of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and the reign of terror they are waging in the region.  "We are all afraid," she said.

Locally, the number of International Displaced Persons, or IDPS as they are called, has stabilized, Deborah said, with people staying in tents, at schools, in empty homes, and in buildings under construction.

The UN Refugee Agency UNHCR reports there are one million displaced persons in Iraq — refugees and asylum-seekers from Iran and Turkey, of Kurdish origins, and Palestinians who live in camps, settlements and urban areas — also mainly in Kurdistan. Syrians also represent the growing number of refugees being assisted.

An Iraqi born Dallas pastor, Jalil Dawood, has started World Refugees Care, Inc. World Refugees Care to assist the churches in Iraq with caring for the people.

"We need action and prayer," Dawood told the  Examiner. He is an advocate of special visas for some of the tens of thousands of displaced Iraqis who seek emigration, pointing out that they have become so traumatized they are worse than prisoners in their own country at this point, with no place to go.

"We cannot do nothing when there is so much suffering in the Middle East," Dawood said. "If we don't respond to it, we really have become callous and are just concerned about our stuff here."

Deborah said the greatest need as winter approaches is for clothes, blankets and heating stoves.

Dawood said his Dallas congregation is running out of resources, and pleaded for churches in America to help.

"It's a matter of concern, it's a matter of the heart," he said. "We need action and prayer."

"We cannot do nothing when there is so much suffering in the Middle East," Dawood said. "If we don't respond to it, we really have become callous and are just concerned about our stuff here."

Call or write your U.S. senator to ask for action now.

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