Help Comes As Families Flee ISIS
3 November, 2016
Near Bashiqa, Kurdistan, Northern Iraq
Thank you for your prayers, words of encouragement and help. The last two days have seen an increase of people fleeing ISIS as the Kurdish and Iraqi forces continue their offensive in and around Mosul. The Kurdish Peshmerga we are-with are concentrating on an operation aimed at clearing the area of Bashiqa, west of Mosul. Meanwhile the Iraqi forces are now beginning to try to clear the city of Mosul ten miles to the west of us. The area of Bashiqa is considered the last stronghold of ISIS in Iraqi Kurdistan.
On the night of the 31st of October, the Kurdish Peshmerga we were-with told us that there were families running from ISIS in the Mosul area and had just come across the front lines. We went to them and found over 500 people from 150 families huddled in the cold night. Since Bashiqa had not yet been cleared, ISIS had the opportunity to attack us from two directions, with bullets flying at us from both the east and the west. The Peshmerga were in good positions however, and fired back while the IDP families took cover in a clearing behind them. The soldiers gave the displaced all the water supplies they had, but told the people they had no food to distribute. Our FBR medics as well as two other accompanying medics began to treat patients among the crowd. We contacted nearby aid agencies and they responded with food and water for the families. Some of our team went back to pick it up and we were able-to feed the displaced peoples at around 3 AM that morning.
The people mobbed us for the food, but with the help of one of the elders from among the displaced, and after calling upon Jesus, the affair remained friendly. By 4 AM we had fed all 150+ families, with all gratefully receiving enough.
We prayed that we could get help and other organizations responded. We prayed that it would be enough and it was. It felt somewhat similar to the story of Jesus when he fed the multitude with only five loaves of bread and two fish. As I write this I am reminded of an instance where the crowd was asked if anyone had food. Only one boy offered what he had. Others might have had some too, but only one boy spoke up. People in desperate physical, emotional, physiological and spiritual need were touched by this act. There are many needs all over the world starting right in our homes, and this is just one of them. We thank God for those He connects with us. As my mother and father told me when I was younger, “God has friends all over the world and He likes for them to meet each other.”
We slept among the displaced that night. The next day 500 more arrived when the Peshmerga opened a gap in their lines to let the people, their livestock and their vehicles through. There was shooting again as the Peshmerga suppressed ISIS in the distance. We witnessed joyous reunions again as some of the Peshmerga soldiers met with relatives who had been trapped by ISIS for two years. It was also touching to see the Kurdish soldiers help old and sick Arab family members who had until recently been under ISIS-rule, and thus were suspect. Without hesitation, the Peshmerga helped them and showed them love. We have set up a medical station in an abandoned house and now have food, water and blankets thanks to the Barzani Foundation and other organizations. We will help the next group that comes through, and as some us will continue to move with the Peshmerga to help along the way as they liberate Bashiqa. Thank you for your love and prayers.
God bless you,
Dave, family and the Kurdistan Team