It’s been all over the headlines.
In the Middle East, Christians are are being forced to flee their homes as refugees, targets of persecution and murder from a group known as ISIS, a radical Islamic group famous for their brutality. As we read about the horrors unfolding across the ocean, we have wondered what we can do to help.
Last month, eight men from Grace Community Church in Goshen, Ind. (Jim Brown, pastor), traveled to wartorn northern Iraq for nine days, facing danger up-close-and-personal to bring 16 trunks full of medical supplies and $65,000 in cash for relief efforts. And since their return, they have opened up opportunities for others to do something, too.
“We had a lot of naysayers,” said Ted Rondeau, executive administrator and missions and outreach director at Grace. “The idea came in the midst of preaching through 1 John, where [Pastor] Jim was admonishing the church family through those passages, which say, ‘If you see a brother in need, help him.’ It was one of those things when the Lord speaks… and He said ‘Okay, here’s your chance to practice what you preach. What are you going to do?’”
You can read the full story on Pastor Jim Brown’s blog, as well as the two-part feature about the trip that appeared in The Goshen News, here and here. The stories are still pouring out. In what the men have described to be an ordained work of God, they felt the presence of the Holy Spirit with them during the trip, despite the imminent dangers and aura of fear pervading the country.
“In Ephesians 4 it talks about making the most of every opportunity because the days are evil,” said Rondeau. “We call those kairos moments…a unique moment in time that a window of opportunity presents itself and provides a powerful moving of God’s spirit to move the nations to Himself. We found ourselves in Iraq, the top of the list of unreached people groups. And ISIS is the darkest expression of Islam that exists on the planet. A crisis like this happens and it completely melts hard hearts. The Muslim people looking in the face of ISIS seeing what their faith stands for…and they are open to considering the gospel.”
But the question remains: What can you do?
Well, the group of men have returned with a gameplan, and they are spreading it far and wide.
“Right now we are raising more funds to move people out of tents and from under bridges into more permanent housing in Erbil,” said Rondeau. “During our trip there we were able to secure six apartments in a complex that were of sufficient size for two families.”
In the next couple of months, Grace4Iraq (as they have dubbed the project) will send a team back to Iraq to further the vision of the church plant and outreach.
“This is a unique opportunity for the church to rise up and not only be the hands and feet of Jesus and…help with the physical needs, but a tremendously unique opportunity in history to bring the words of the Gospel in and with it new life and new hope to people whose lives are in shambles,” said Rondeau.
This past Sunday, Grace Community took a special offering in the effort to raise $115,000 towards the housing project. Read more about the project here and here, and click here to donate to Grace4Iraq.
This story first appeared in GraceConnect eNews. To subscribe to the weekly e-newsletter that includes news and information from congregations in the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches, click here.