Beyond Borders: Love and Help from Burma to Iraq
17 February 2019
Karen State, Burma
On March 10, we’ll be joining together with people around the world to shed light on the ongoing oppression in Burma and to pray for the people there. Below is one of the stories featured in this year’s Global Day of Prayer for Burma magazine which is available for download here. Please join us in praying for Burma!
My name is Mohammed. I am a former Iraqi soldier who worked with the FBR team on the front lines in the operation of liberating and ridding Mosul of the extreme terrorists called ISIS. During the Mosul campaign, I was shot six times. After I recovered, I left work with the Iraqi Army and I started working with the Free Burma Rangers in Iraq.
Then I was invited to Burma. I did not know anything about Burma and what is going on there. On April 18, 2018, I traveled out of Iraq for the first time.
In Burma, we walked on foot in the forests and up very high and beautiful mountains. I never tried this kind of work, walking long distances, up high mountains and through dense forests. It is very difficult for ordinary people to do; as a soldier I have some fitness and I was trained by Mr. David Eubank. Still, it was very difficult for me and I imagined that I felt death from the intensity of the fatigue.
There, you will not find drinking water easily and food is very little. The people like rice. We ate rice for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I saw poor people who do not have the basic requirements of life, such as drinking water, electricity and communications. I cannot believe what I saw there in 2018.
Even though the people do not have anything, they do not ask for anything. Even if they need something I have, they do not ask for it. My God, I never saw people with that kind of dignity in my life. Even though they are needy and have nothing they gave us gifts that they made with their hands, such as woven bags and other handiwork. And they all wanted to invite us to eat with them.
I have not seen people like this before: good and patient and brave and faithful. If you leave your things – money, anything – they do not touch them. I was very surprised that they are so good; it is hard for me to describe with words.
These people really need help and have been crushed. When I saw them I asked myself about the people from Burma who were coming to Iraq. Many of the rangers are being harassed by the Burmese army. They need help, and they come to my country, Iraq, which is plagued by fierce war. They treat wounded Iraqi Army. They also help wounded civilians, and they stand together with us. This is not normal. I wonder if I can understand all these helping hands.
This kindness helped my country, not because it is my country but for humanity. Love and help does not stop at your country. It is love and help for all humanity, all over the world. I learned from these people many things, like patience, simplicity, love, faith and courage.
I learned also from this blessed family, as if I was a young child. I still learn from them, ever since I met Mr. Dave in 2017, in the front line on the west side of Mosul. There I saw the beautiful young children, this woman and this old man, in this hell with the dead and wounded everywhere and attacks by suicide bombers and mortars and rockets everywhere, and snipers and all the tools of killing and death. I asked them, “What are you doing here?”
He said to me, “We are here to help you, and your colleagues from the army and the wounded civilians.”
I marveled, and I told him, “You are crazy, you leave your country, America, beautiful and safe, like paradise, and come here to this place, almost like hell. Take me to America. I’m so tired of this situation. Are you crazy?”
He started to smile and said to me, “The Lord sent me.” Then he thought more and said, “My God is still good; in this world good still exists, even though I only see evil in front of my eyes.”
I never saw courage and strength like this before. It is not normal. He ran ahead of us in the battlefields. He and his family and his team gave everyone inspiration in the fighting. They did programs for children and put smiles on their faces – and not only the children, also the adults, the soldiers of the army and the civilians. At that time I told him, “I want to work with you.”
He said, “I have no strength and no money and I am very small and weak.”
Since that time I loved that man and his family. They left their beautiful country and came for me. I will work with this family and I will die for them, and will spread the love of the Lord with them. In my life I saw in this man strength and courage and the love of God and others. They are not normal.
In my country of Iraq, we have had to fight for liberation and rid ourselves of terrorism, and we have needed prayer. I never thought about another place, like Burma, and never thought I could go there. I was surprised when I saw the lives of the people there; I told myself, these people really need help and I could come to help. I told them, “I am a fighter, a soldier, and I can help you. I am grateful to meet you and I now pray a new prayer for you from my heart: I love you so much and pray for your nation, for a free and dignified life for you.”