As ISIS loses territory, civilians find Hope in the remains
We know ISIS has been losing territory, but now we have some data. Last week, an Iraqi military spokesman said ISIS now only controls less than seven percent of Iraq, down from the 40 percent it had claimed in 2014, Christian Telegraph reports according to Mission Network News.
Steve Van Valkenburg with Christian Aid Mission says as the war for control over Iraqi territories and cities wages on, we need to remember the Iraqi people. “They’ve been through a lot of trauma, and I guess the question is, even if ISIS is kicked out, what’s going to happen with all those people who’ve been influenced and have seen the trauma that they’ve seen? What’s going to happen with them?
“Ultimately, what they need is to have something happen within their hearts, which only Jesus Christ can provide for them.”
If Iraqi forces can drive ISIS out of western Mosul, which ISIS had declared the capital of their caliphate, it would strike a significant blow against the terrorist group. But ISIS’ reign over the city for so long has taken a toll.
“The children within Mosul have been indoctrinated and they’re confused. In a sense, they’ve been abused by ISIS and now a lot of them are in camps or free areas in Kurdistan. The parents realize the kids have a lot of problems…. They are seeking any kind of comfort they can get. They need answers. They’re looking for hope.”
Especially in light of Easter Sunday yesterday, the hope that Jesus Christ gave us through His resurrection and the defeat of death is needed more than ever for those who are starved of hope.
“I think that’s one reason the parents are very interested in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, because they see something that may give them hope. They see everything around them disintegrated, [but] they see there is hope when the Christians talk about the love of God as expressed in Jesus Christ dying on a cross and being resurrected.”
Photo courtesy of Christian Aid Mission via Facebook
Ministry partners with Christian Aid Mission distribute physical aid in critical regions of Iraq, provide medical care, host children’s programs, set-up prayer tents, and give out mp3 players with Scripture materials.
“They can provide mp3 players for like $10; those are loaded with the New Testament and Gospel presentations, and it’s in their language and they can listen to it even though they may be illiterate. Many people really long to have New Testaments and they long to have people just share hope with them — and that’s what the Gospel message is for them, is hope.”
And the Christians carrying out these outreaches? They’re from the area and have had boots on the ground since day one. “Some of those who have escaped from Mosul are now working full-time just in ministry in reaching out to displaced people. We send funds there regularly to them so they can continue to reach out and meet the needs of people. These are local people who are from that area. They are mature Christians and they can have a very good ministry there among those people.”
And the best thing every believer can do to encourage our Iraqi brothers and sisters in Christ: pray. Pray for their faith journey, their fervor in ministry, their hope in Christ, and their daily needs — that God would provide for Iraqi Christians as they pursue His glory.
“There’s always a need for reaching out, and I think even though we know as Christians that ultimately our end-goal is that people come to know Jesus Christ, still the kind of aid that can be given out is a bridge to those people to be able to connect with them. Jesus Christ has always shown care, compassion, healing people, and that’s really the arms and feet of Jesus Christ right now among those people are the local believers who can give out and help and meet needs.”