Freedom for a Yazidi Refugee

When I visited the Middle East this past summer, I was overwhelmed by so many tragic stories of conflict, violence, and abuse. But I also heard some incredible stories of hope.

One of those stories comes from the peace camp that some of our workers attended in northern Iraq, a region that has seen some of the most brutal atrocities in recent years. The camp gathered together young people from different backgrounds to share their stories and their desire for peace. But God had something even more amazing in mind.

On the second day of the camp, there was a talent show when participants were given opportunity to get to know each other better by sharing their gifts. One of the North Americans sang a song, an Iraqi told a joke, and some of the Yazidis performed a dance.

But everything changed when Amar, a young Yazidi from a nearby refugee camp, approached the front to read a poem. It was brutally honest. He spoke openly about the horrors of war that he and his family had experienced, how Muslim extremists had invaded their village and forced them to escape to a nearby mountain. Amar told of how his family waited there without water, without food and without hope. Those who remained in the village were either killed or captured. Others died on the mountaintop from exhaustion and dehydration. Those who survived ended up in refugee camps within the borders of their own country.

As Amar shared, his face was marked by sadness. Once he had finished his poem, he looked into the eyes of the other participants. The room was silent. The talent show was over.

Then Amar told the group that, just a few days earlier, his friend had received a message from the extremist forces demanding an exorbitant ransom for the return of a sister, only twelve years old, who had been captured and made a sex slave.

“What should I do?” Amar asked.

His question hung in the air. No one answered him. He turned to the North American participants and asked them, his voice getting louder, “What would you do?” One of our workers, Dan, rose to stand next to Amar. He addressed the group, explaining that there was very little at that moment that any of them could do to change the situation. But he also said that he believed in a God who cared, a God who hears the cries of the oppressed. He asked Amar if they could cry out to God on his friend’s behalf.

As people circled around Amar to pray for this missing girl, many in the room began to weep. Dan felt the prompting of the Holy Spirit to proclaim freedom into this situation and to cry out in a loud voice. He warned the group so they would not be shocked.

From the depths of his soul, Dan cried out: “Freedom!” It was deafening.

He yelled out the word again: “Freedom!”

Seconds later, a young man echoed the cry from the back of the room: “Freedom!”

The emotion in the room was palpable. The hope was real.

Very quickly, another of our workers invited others into the circle that also had loved ones who were still missing or known to be kidnapped by extremist groups. At that point, half of the people in the room stepped forward and the others offered fervent prayers to God on behalf of their suffering. There were many more tears as those who prayed also began to look into the eyes of each person and to tell them that, despite these horrors, God loved them.

As the prayer time came to a close, one of the young Yazidis at the back of the room presented a large white poster board inscribed with a message that he had just written: “Dear Christians who have come from long distances away to plant peace flowers in our lands, we do welcome you on this land. We like sharing thoughts with you. You are a piece of us now and we are the same to you.”

I have been reflecting on the significance of that young man’s message. It was a profound statement, not only affirming our presence at the peace camp but inviting us to consider future possibilities of partnership. God is opening doors among the least reached. Will you join us in seizing those opportunities?

People are crying out for peace and freedom in places like Northern Iraq. I saw it again and again as I traveled throughout the Middle East. God is at work in this region and people like the Yazidis have opened their hearts to him like never before.

Those at the peace camp experienced the power and healing presence of God’s Spirit. In the midst of all the darkness and pain in this region, God was shining his light. The Prince of Peace had come to show the way. Are you willing to participate in his peace plan among the nations?

Join with me today in asking God how he wants you to participate. Consider how you could partner with us as we embrace amazing opportunities like this around the world. If you believe, like I do, that Jesus is the Prince of Peace and his message of peace is the hope of the nations, then I invite you to contribute financially to our worldwide mission. As you pray about what you are able to give, please be confident that your gift helps to support workers in least-reached regions of the world. Whether you give $100 or $1000, your contribution will bring training and resourcing to those who are proclaiming the Gospel of peace among the nations.

We have a unique opportunity to be a part of something special that God is doing in the Middle East and around the world. He is inviting us to partner with him. Let’s respond together, today.

For the glory of the Prince of Peace, donate here

Randy Friesen
General Director