Father Daniel is a Chaldean priest. He turned 26 this week. With another priest, Father Douglas, he oversees a camp for more than 700 Iraqi Christians, most whom fled their villages on August 6, 2014. Before becoming a priest, he studied to become a doctor with Muslim classmates in Ukraine. His classmates bombarded him with questions about his faith. To answer them thoughtfully
and thoroughly, Daniel took online courses in theology.
Through that study he decided, “to become a spiritual doctor instead of a regular doctor.” Father Daniel knows every child in the camp – all 200 – by name. When he walks through the camp, they gravitate toward him, holding his hand, basking in his smile. He preaches in Aramaic, the language Jesus spoke. Father Daniel says when Jesus comes, he will be happy to translate for the rest of us. World Vision works with Father Daniel to provide the displaced people with what they need – food vouchers to buy things they can’t otherwise buy: protein like meat and cheese, and supporting small businesses such as hairdressing, cooking, and tailoring, even a playground for kids who used to play outside in their villages.
Father Daniel’s new congregation is hungry for healing. “What happened to them was a big trauma,” he says. “They need to be educated on how to deal with this loss. “But they need more than handouts,” he says. “They need hope. We are helping them be creative,” he says. “When Iraqi Christians are persecuted, they become creative. We opened a Child-Friendly Space. We did classes
in music, flute, guitar, violin, dancing, drama, and drawing.”
When the children first came Father Daniel had them draw their feelings. They drew guns and bombs and war. He hosted the same exercise after six months,” he says “‘Now draw your dream,’ I said. I saw pictures of doctors, teachers, singers, and dancers.” “I came home from Iraq feeling ashamed but inspired,” reported Costanza. “Would my faith be so strong under so much pressure?
When that day comes, I hope I can be like an Iraqi Christian, finding beauty and bravery, being my best.”
Source: Kari Costanza, World Vision
Bible Study: 1 Corinthians 13
MARCH: Praise God for the witness of the faithful in such difficult conditions. Pray for all spiritual leaders seeking to minister to those traumatised by war.