My friend Kourtney Street has lived and ministered in the Middle East. She has many personal relationships in that part of the world, and great insights to help all of us navigate these treacherous days with wisdom, love and grace. She posted this article on her blog today, but I wanted you to benefit from what she has written.
Have you seen this symbol increasingly appearing on social media sites? This one-eyed smily face is actually the Arabic letter “N” which stands for Nasrani, the Arabic word for Christian, since Jesus is from Nazareth.
It’s been an incredible privilege to work in the Middle East on and off for the last 23 years (Rich) and 16 years (me). Each country in the land where Jesus once walked is attached to people we know and love. (Our son was not given the name David Jordan because we love basketball.) Each country has gone in and out of seasons of ‘peace.’ So watching the news…well, it’s personal.
If you’ve seen updates in the last few weeks, you know that ISIS, Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham, (al-Sham means Syria) has been painting this symbol on the door of the houses of Christians in Mosul, Iraq with three choices: convert to Islam, pay a very high tax, or die. The atrocities are evil and horrific. Children are not exempt. It’s systematic. Executions. Beheadings. Crucifixions.
So while I ‘struggle’ to write this blog post in my soft, ruffled Buckhead Betties pajamas, drinking my favorite Houston coffee from Texas, our brave friends in Iraq are struggling to comfort families who are facing unfathomable horrors. Today our Christian friends in Iraq, some of the most courageous and selfless people we know, will struggle to feed the thousands of refugees who are sleeping on the street because the churches and schools are already filled up. Thousands of Christians and other persecuted groups have ended up in their backyard, a more northern region of Iraq. They’ve left everything in hopes of sparing their lives, and they will likely never get it back.
Many American friends have asked us in the last few days what they can do, and we wanted to provide some resources. Although this situation is darker, scarier, and bigger than we can wrap our minds or hearts around, we can make a difference. Mother Theresa said, “if you can’t feed a hundred people, then just feed one.” She is right. So what can we do?
STAY INFORMED. Keep your news diversified to avoid misinformation. A few suggestions:
1. Nobody does a perfect job, but the BBC tends provide a non-American lens to the reporting of the global news.
PRAY. Our prayers do matter. An American friend working hard in the Northern Region of Iraq wrote me a treasured email this morning and said, “Truly the greatest work to be done is on our knees. Your knees just happen to be on American soil, but we are laboring together.” Tears.
- Pray for God’s love to shine through horrific darkness
- Pray for forgiveness and healing
- Pray for soldiers on all sides to have dreams and visions of Christ’s love for them
- Pray for families who have been displaced
- Pray for provision of physical needs of food, water, and medical needs
- Pray for ministers and humanitarian aid workers to have wisdom, stamina and faith
- Pray for wisdom and courage for global leaders
GIVE. Give to Christian workers in the region who are administering care and humanitarian aid as well as to organizations providing the aid. Rich and I feel strongly about giving to the workers distributing the aid as well as to the aid in general. We want to know that long after the distribution trucks have left, that the long-term emotional and spiritual needs of the people will be met by people who speak their heart language. We cannot post names and pictures for security reasons, but a few trusted people and projects where we are giving:
- To give securely to our beloved Iraqi friend who has ministered in Iraq for the last 30+ years, please clickhere
- To give securely to a young Iraqi couple we deeply respect, ministering in Iraq and providing aid, please click here
- To give to Cru’s humanitarian aid efforts in Iraq givehere
CREATE AWARENESS. Meaningful conversations and social media make a difference.
- Change your profile picture to this.
- Show kindness and love to your Middle Eastern neighbors and co-workers. Muslim-Americans often endure harsh treatment during seasons like this. God is love, not hate. We LOVE Middle Easterners!
- Post articles about the situation that are informative and do not promote hate.
What about you? How can you speak and live love and grace into this difficult time?
Kourtney is married to Rich, mother to Rich, Joseph and David, a Texan (!), and gives these other identifiers: O a sports
obsessive loving, Mexican food eating, dairy & gluten free cooking, soul hospitality practicing, never met a stranger, kind of family. You can read her blog here, friend her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @KourtStreet.