Helping the Persecuted

Since we began the Arabic Mission in North Texas it is my routine on Monday evening to call members, who were unable to attend church on Sunday, visit with them, letting them know they were missed by their church family, and to call on visitors and welcome them.

Monday, December 5th, was an emotionally charged evening. I spent more than two hours on the phone talking to four of the families who are members of our Arabic Ministry in the Fort Worth area. With the permission from the families I would like to share with our partners and supporters a bit of our conversation…

For the last three Sundays Moayed and his family have not attended services. I called to visit with him and see how he is doing. Moayed has been a member of the Antiochian Apostolic Church for six years. His children were baptized and confirmed in our church. He and his four brothers-in-law and their families are all from the Nineveh Valley in Iraq from the Christian village of Qaraqosh.

During the conversation I learned that Moayed was frustrated, even angry with God. He said that after losing any hope of returning to his village in Iraq that America had become his country. He was waiting and hoping that he and his family would be able to go back, and, at least, sell their properties to be able to buy a home in the Fort Worth area. After the Iraqi and the Peshmerga (Kurdish forces) freed most of the villages in the Valley… his brothers, who remained in Iraq and had become refugees for the past 2 years in the Kurdish controlled area returned to the village, they were devastated by what they saw. ISIS had burned their homes before leaving the villages. There was nothing left to go home to.

“We lost all of our financial resources in our homeland.” Moayed screamed with a devastating and angry voice. “Here in America our houses are insured against such calamities, but in Iraq there is no insurance, and the government will not compensate anything. There is no way to get any penny! We’ve lost everything. Our life savings and investments has all gone because of ISIS.”

I was silent for a while and did not know what to say but to counsel him to turn to God and to know that our final home and resources are in heaven…

Moayed send me pictures of his home when he left it in 2010 and how the house was burned in October 2016. He said: “The value of my house in 2010 was $250,000. I worked many years to pay it off. All this is burned to ground.”

Immediately after speaking with Moayed, I called his brother in law Dr. Michael.

Dr. Michael holds a Doctorate in Chemistry from Germany and was a professor at the University of Mosel before the American invasion to Iraq in 2003. After the invasion a vicious and bloody sectarian conflict between the Sunny and Shiites erupted in Iraq.

Dr. Michael resided in the same village, less than 20 miles from Mosel. In addition to his job at the university he owned farms and land in the village which provided income for his family. His family’s life was threatened by the fundamentalist Islamic groups and he was not allowed to go back to his teaching position at the University of Mosel. In 2010 he fled the village leaving everything behind him; he and his family came to America. Not being able to find a job he had no choice but to work as a as high school substitute in various school districts. Three years ago he was nominated the president of our congregation.

Dr. Michael told me that his house has been burned to the ground, and that he has lost the last resources that he was hoping to invest in.

I then called Bassam, the third brother in law. Bassam’s wife Ansam came to American through a UN refugee program. He was not able to come with his wife to America but was able to immigrate to Austria. Ansam had to wait 5 years to get her American citizenship to be able to apply for her husband Bassam who was waiting in Austria. When Ansam applied for her husband to be able to come to America she found out that she is not making enough money for him to come. The immigration needed a co-singer that makes enough money. Ansam called me and asked for help. Although it is a reliability to co-sign I decided to help this family and co-sign the paper. After almost 6 years of waiting Bassam was finally able to be with his wife and his daughter. Bassam and his wife are members of our church and both their daughters were baptized at our church. I called to find out how his family was holding up through this difficult time and he told me that his brother’s and sisters’ homes were also burned. “Not even beasts and untamed animals do what they have done to our homes and properties” Bassam shouted with anger.
Later that evening I was able to visit with their newly arrived brother in Law from Iraq, Imad. He arrived in the Fort Worth just six months ago. Imad’s wife was a dentist in Iraq, she had her own practice in Mosel and he had his own business. When ISIS invaded in 2014 they left everything and ran to northern Iraq in Kurdistan.

Imad told me: “we are very frustrated because we are starting from nothing. My wife must go school and take many tests to be able to work even as a dentist assistant. That is very hard after owning your own practice. We are taking Intensive language courses, and we have no choice but to go through this after losing everything in Iraq…”

The Antiochian Apostolic Church’s mission is to continue to provide spiritual, and if it is necessary, financial support for these families who have lost everything because of their faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Helping the persecuted Christian has always been part of our mission.