Solidarity with Christians in Iraq

The Outreach Foundation“On June 10, the Islamic State of Iraq (ISIS) entered Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq. Before 2003, Mosul was home to 35,000 Christians and one of the five Presbyterian churches in the country. The Nineveh Province, in which Mosul is found, includes the largest concentration of Christians (many in small villages), churches and monasteries (some dating back to the fourth century).

Soon, many of the remaining 3,000 Christians made their way to Erbil and Kirkuk, perhaps anticipating what would be the devastating pronouncement by ISIS on July 19: convert to Islam, pay an unspecified tax or be killed. In the weeks leading up to that announcement, the homes and businesses of Christians were marked with the Arabic letter “n” for “Nazarene,” the designation for Christians in the Quran. The mass exodus of Christians, religious minorities and moderate Muslims from Mosul was heavily monitored by ISIS, and no one was permitted to leave with any possessions or money. By the end of the month, ISIS had complete control of the city, and the Assyrian News Service published a list of 45 churches or religious sites destroyed or taken over by ISIS. On that list was the historic Presbyterian Church, one of the oldest Protestant churches in the Middle East.

On July 26, the pastor of the Kirkuk Presbyterian Church appealed to partners like The Outreach Foundation for help as the internally displaced made their way along the 100 mile road from Mosul to Kirkuk.  Their main efforts now are focused on 12 Christian families who are living at the Kirkuk Presbyterian church, spread out through their classrooms, offices and fellowship center. They are also assisting another 50 families at other churches in Kirkuk.” 

Original Source: The Outreach Foundation

Through the generosity of FPC members, your Disaster Response Committee chose to respond to this humanitarian crisis by sending $15,000 to be administered by, and dispersed through, The Outreach Foundation in support of the relief work of its in-country partner, the National Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Iraq.  Upon receipt of that gift, the following note arrived at FPC:

 September 11, 2014

Dear friends at First,

I arrived home from Israel and Palestine late last night and was greeted in the office this morning with news of First’s generous gift in support of our Presbyterian partners in Iraq who are reaching out to care for their displaced neighbors, both Christian and Muslim. Thank you for strengthening their hands! The Kirkuk church has 12 families living in their building and are caring for another fifty families being hosted by other congregations.

We received the sad news from Pastor Farouk in Baghdad that a member of his church was killed by  a car bomb yesterday.

Amidst the violence and loss, Presbyterians are showing and sharing Jesus’ love. These are our brothers and sisters, and they are dear friends. Thank you for praying for them, encouraging them and helping them to be salt and light to the glory of God.

Grace and peace,
Rob Weingartner
Executive Director

We ask you to lift up prayer those Iraqi Christians and all others around the world experiencing persecution for their beliefs in our God.

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