Local missionaries in Iraq recently met a refugee who was a Muslim officer in the Syrian army before he fled enemy soldiers who occupied his home.
“I dreamed that a group of missionaries visited my house and told me very pleasant things,” he told the ministry team. “I don’t remember what it was, but I remember when I woke up, I had a wonderful peace and joy that I had never experienced before. Can you visit us at home?”
Within a week the workers went to his small apartment to meet with his family, only to find they had also invited several other relatives and friends to hear about Christ, the ministry leader said. The team answered many questions that were heavy on the minds and hearts of those present.
As the discussion ended, workers offered an invitation to receive Christ and follow Him, the leader said.
“The five Muslim families who were present prayed the salvation prayer and asked for copies of the Bible,” he said. “And they agreed to enroll their children in the Sunday school program.”
Syrians must be in deep desperation to flee as refugees to Iraq, a country so beset with its own internal conflicts and unrest that 8 million Iraqis are living abroad as refugees in other countries, according to the UN.
Another 1.2 million Iraqis are displaced in their own country, according to the UN, but on top of that are 4.5 million Iraqi refugees who have returned home only to find that their homes, jobs and prior lives no longer exist, the ministry leader said; they can only take shelter in desert tents.
The internally displaced Iraqis, the nearly 260,000 Syrian refugees and refugees from other countries present a huge opportunity for missionaries native to Iraq to show them the love of Christ. The native ministry regularly reports large numbers of the internally displaced coming to faith in Christ.
Such faith helps them withstand pervasive hardship. Those coming to Christ include many youths, including a young Yazidi boy who was suffering from cancer while living in a refugee camp. During the Islamic State (ISIS) occupation in parts of Iraq from 2014 to 2017, the invading militants had kidnapped and raped his sisters and killed many of his family members.
Local missionaries found Kutaiba* living in a small, cold tent with relatives too poor to give him hospital treatment for cancer, the ministry leader said. His cancer had so advanced that family members said he could die at any moment.
“We provided funds for some chemical medicine, we prayed with his family, and Kutaiba prayed with us to receive Christ,” he said. “With a heart filled with hope of soon meeting with Christ, he recently went to be with the Lord.”
Workers also operate an extensive mobile medical outreach that has restored health and opened doors to the gospel to thousands of people. The ministry leader said it has enabled workers to enter many homes and pray with Yazidis, Muslims and the nominally Christian, including people from countries as varied as Yemen and Turkmenistan.
“We pray and present the gospel message and see heads bowed before the Lord, and broken hearts seek healing from Jesus the Healer,” he said.
The missionaries’ knowledge of local history opened an opportunity when the leader of a large, Sunni Muslim clan invited them to speak at their hospitality center about the role of what is now Nineveh Governorate in the Bible.
Workers told them about the area’s biblical history and relation to Christ, and the clan elders thanked them and asked them to create a program for children to present Bibles and talk about Jesus, the leader said. A son of one clan elder told them that he had heard much about Christ on satellite TV during the ISIS occupation but could not find anyone to help him learn more during war time.
“On one of the nights when the bombing intensified, he was asleep, and Jesus came to him in a dream, gave him a message and told him to read it,” the ministry leader said. “When he woke up, he did not know what the Lord wanted from him or what the message was.”
Workers met with him, gave him a Bible and told him it contained the message the Lord wanted him to read.
“The amount of happiness in his eyes was so encouraging that we asked him to communicate online if he was interested in taking some lessons,” the leader said. “He said, ‘Yes, and I have other friends who want to participate.’ Hallelujah.”
Outreach to youth is a high priority for the ministry, with workers distributing hundreds of children’s Bibles in various cities and villages. An 8-year-old boy who received one invited workers to visit his house, where his father told them his son talked constantly about Christ and read and explained a chapter to him every day.
“He was very proud of his son and said he feels like his son is changed,” the leader said. “After a period of talking and presenting Christ, he surrendered his life to Christ and obtained an audio Bible in Arabic. Hallelujah!”
Workers are bringing the love of Christ to spiritually and physically needy people throughout Iraq. Please consider a donation today to equip and encourage them.
*Names changed for security reasons