Date: July 23, 2015
Iraq (MNN) — Picture this. You’re living in a city that has been your hometown for generations. You hear about a new threat, a group of religious extremists attacking your city. Considering there are 52,000 governmental security forces protecting you from the 3,000 terrorists, there’s not that much to fear. You go to bed at midnight with news that the security forces are winning.
Someone shakes you awake at four in the morning: the 52,000 surrendered to the 3,000. The city is lost.
That’s what happened in Mosul, Iraq, and the surrounding villages last year in June. ISIS beat a force over 17 times their size then stormed from house to house.
Vision Beyond Borders President Patrick Klein elaborates: at each house, he says ISIS “told the people to convert to Islam or die or leave. Many of them left.”
How many? Enough to cause a serious problem in Dohuk, “which is about an hour north of Mosul.
“We’re seeing more and more flooding of refugees,” Klein says, “and the government in Dohuk said, ‘We can’t handle all this influx of refugees.’ Camps can have as many as 70,000 refugees, and they’re desperate for care.
“They can’t afford to buy anything because when they left Mosul and the surrounding villages, they left with just the clothes on their backs,” says Klein. “They had no time to go to the banks and get any money out.” One man even lamented to partners that ”he had $60,000 saved. It was his life’s savings, and ISIS took all of his money.”
ISIS isn’t done traumatizing the people of Mosul. Young girls and women are being taken as prizes by ISIS members who use and abuse them before “sending them back to their families [so] that they’re terrorized to increase the fear in families,” says Klein.
One man’s 70-year-old mother was beaten and abused until the militants decided, “’We don’t want her, we don’t want to feed her anymore, we don’t want to be responsible for her. Let’s let her go back to her family.’”
The most fervent prayer for many refugees is that “we might just see ISIS get routed and then people can go back and live in their homes again,” says Klein. But even then, they are still fearful. “A lot of them said they were afraid because they thought there were land mines actually put in their houses.”
So what can we do to help? Vision Beyond Borders is taking a giant first step.
Klein says, “We’re doing containers to Northern Iraq to help our Christian brothers and sisters and also to reach out to Yazidi people in Iraq that have been affected by ISIS.”
This first container will include “school supplies, medical supplies, and also hygiene supplies,” says Klein, “just to say, ‘We’re with you in this.’”
And that’s not the end of it. Vision Beyond Borders has been ”raising funds to buy Bibles to help them to replace the Bibles that have been lost.”
But for such a big problem, there needs to be a long-term plan in place. “What we thought we’d do is start small,” explains Klein. “We thought, ‘Let’s send a container. Let’s get Bibles for them. Let’s start small and then let’s see where God takes it.’”
That doesn’t mean this first container will also be the last. “I think what we want to do is continuously send containers and supplies for them.”
As the people struggle for money, Klein introduces yet another long-term plan. He says they want “to set up micro-finance loans, to help ]refugees] get settled in Northern Iraq.”
So how can you help? It turns out you are vital to the cause. You’ve also got options. Klein says they can get full Arabic Bibles from Northern Iraq for “$4 a piece.” In addition, Vision Beyond Borders is still accepting “school supplies, hygiene materials, and basic medical supplies” for the container.
Klein closes by reminding us that God can use the warpath of ISIS to His glory. “I feel like there’s an opportunity for Christians and Americans around the world to say, ‘We’re standing with you. We love you. We care about you.’”