In today’s world there are almost 60 million refugees. One in every 122 people is a refugee, internally displaced, or seeking asylum. But these people are more than just numbers. They are some of the most incredible people on earth, as World Vision writer Kari Costanza found in Iraq. “I came home from Iraq feeling ashamed,” he writes. “For more than two decades, I have traveled to 35 countries to report stories for World Vision. And wherever I go, I find bravery and beauty…”
“I didn’t expect to find beauty or bravery in Iraq. I just expected to be afraid. I’m embarrassed to say that until last month, I painted the people if Iraq with broad brushstrokes. In my mind, I dehumanised them. I was so wrong. What I found on my travels in the northern region of Iraq was a group of people whose faith and love of beauty is far stronger than mine.” Meet Ibtihal, Huda, and May. They are artists. In the summer of 2014, armed groups drove them from Mosul.
They joined 3.4 million Iraqis who have had to flee their homes, often leaving everything behind – 120,000 of them Christians. These women now live with 5,500 others in a camp in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. A year ago, Ibtihal, Huda, and May started a small business – making mosaic tiles with a group of women from the camp. The tiles depict the letter “N” for Nazara – the Arabic symbol for Jesus of Nazareth. “They marked our houses with the letter N for Nazara,” says Ibtihal, speaking of the armed groups. “The N means these houses belonged to them.
They stole our houses. Our furniture. Everything,” says Ibtihal. May joined the group of women at the camp with her daughters Rita, 20, and Sally, 17. Being forced from her home wasn’t her first loss. May lost two brothers in a 2010 church bombing in Mosul. Four years later, she lost her home and her every possession. Her acceptance of such tragedy is dumbfounding. “This is our faith.” The women say the “N” symbolises their unshakeable faith. “They could destroy our church,” says May’s friend, Gaydaa, “but they can’t destroy the small church inside us.”
Source: Kari Costanza, World Vision
Bible Study: Proverbs 31: 10-31
APRIL: Praise God that, despite living away from home, in the cramped conditions of a refugee camp, the profound faith of these Christian women has seen them prosper and enjoy life in Christ. Pray WIDER that refugees may soon find their homes liberated.