We had administrative goals for the trip last week, but the Lord had other plans: to strengthen relationships. His plan was better, because the bonds of love that were forged bring with them His power and patience to work together, pioneering a work in a region infamous for ethnic and religious walls. We were invited to spend the nights with our dear Iraqi friends, forsaking the solitude of a hotel, so we could become part of their family. Welcomed as a leader and friend by the staff of Oasis of Hope, we spent many days helping and bringing vision for the future.
The house-to-house war against ISIS drags on in the western parts of the city of Mosul and in Syria. The Yazidi’s home province, Sinjar, remains a hostile territory where they cannot return. Even if they could, they have no property rights, their society has been dispersed, and their families torn apart. International charities are struggling to keep up. Aid and refugee camps offer no long-term solution. The Iraqi and Kurdish governments do not have the resources to help.
Yet the Yazidi keep singing. They keep laughing and sharing what little they have with each other and strangers. As a people, they stand at a crossroads that is shrouded in uncertainty, holding only vague promises from those who have already abandoned them in the past. Previously a closed culture, they have now been forced to integrate and survive alongside people who do not want them, who think they are dirty and ignorant.
Our western response might be that they need to just be strong and find a job. For them where they are, this is not possible. After decades of attempted genocide upon their race, the Yazidi are in desperate need of help to even begin to put their once-vibrant lives back together.
Oasis of Hope is now serving over 300 children and their families. It’s only a drop in an ocean of need. Currently our staff are overwhelmed because the space they have is too small, there are not enough teachers, and the resources are just barely enough to keep going. They asked me if there was enough money to buy fruit instead of the cheap little cakes they have been serving daily. They want to help the kids be healthier. The fact they were even having to ask this question made me pause and have an internal ‘coming to Jesus’ talk with God. “Is this how it’s going to be?! Not enough money to provide healthy food for the kids?” His answer was clear and strong.
“Tell them to buy fruit. You know My heart. The money will be there when it’s needed.”
The potential to reach the Yazidi with legitimate help is staggering. We can literally change the course of history for them. No longer victims, but victors. This small, yet significant center has the opportunity to be an example to the entire region: showing how love, acceptance, and selfless help can change a nation.
We are expanding. There’s a big unfinished house in the village that we want to remodel to accommodate the vision: that Oasis of Hope will be a bustling, thriving family center which helps the Yazidi start again. We will provide skills training, followed-up by helping mothers and fathers start businesses. We will provide language training, psychotherapy for the traumatized, and food for the hungry. All of this will be in the name of the One who is alive and cares for them deeply. The international body of Christ, serving the local Body, will become the new community for the displaced Yazidi.
The staff from Oasis of Hope recently invited Yazidi families to gather and express their needs and hopes for the future, specifically in regards to how family center can serve them best. Many valuable points and requests were made that we will be implementing throughout the coming year. The Yazidi want to stay in the village because it is not safe for them to return to their homes, which are also completely destroyed and ransacked. Their new home here in the mountains of northern Iraq will be where they rebuild their lives. Oasis of Hope has a vision to help them do just that. This meeting confirmed our desire to expand, finding another location in the village to better serve the Yazidi and the entire village. Stay tuned for updates as God connects and provides all that is needed.
You can be a part!
Recently, the Oasis of Hope staff was invited to join seminars to be trained further in their teaching skills. The course included encouragement to be passionate about the job and teach from the heart. It also included instruction about teaching styles, and about making disciples. The classes were sponsored by Samaritan’s purse and another local NGO. We are thankful for this education. The Lord knows what we need before we can even ask.