Wednesday, March 05, 2008

JOSHUA FUND TEAM CARES FOR POOR AND NEEDY CHILDREN IN IRAQ: Doors open for Christians to help as never before

"If there is a poor man with you, one of your shall not harden your heart, nor close your hand from your poor brother; but you shall freely open your hand to him, and shall generously lend him sufficient for his need in whatever he lacks." (Deuteronomy 15:7-8)
"Jesus said, 'When you give a reception, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.'" (Luke 14:13-14)
John Moser, The Joshua Fund's executive director, and I have just returned from a nine-day trip to Iraq. We visited five provinces and had the privilege of meeting with scores of Iraqi evangelical Christian pastors and ministry leaders, interviewing the Spokesman for Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, meeting with former radical Sunni Muslim terrorists and jihadists.
One of the biggest highlights of their trip was the opportunity we had to work with local Christian leaders to distribute some 800 backpacks to poor and needy children at a school near Mosul, the ancient city of Ninevah, at the invitation of local school officials. Each of the backpacks contained school supplies, coloring books, an illustrated children's Bible, a copy of the JESUS film for children on DVD, and an assortment of other books and tapes.
As you can see in these pictures, despite the jolting poverty these kids live and the horrifying violence they have had to endure over the years, they were absolutely beautiful -- bright shining eyes, big smiles, full of life and hope for the future, and so excited to meet followers of Jesus who came all the way from America to bless them and show them some love. They loved practicing their English. They loved asking us questions about who we were, why we came and whether we would come back (we assured them we would!).
What a joy to be able to bless the poor and needy in Iraq in the name of Jesus. Thanks to all of The Joshua Fund's prayer partners and financial partners for making this possible. We'll have more reports on our trip to Iraq in the days ahead. In the meantime:
* Please keep praying for peace in that troubled country and for God to keep showing His love and mercy to people who have endured so much hardship.
* Please also pray for the local Christians to be strong and courageous, full of love and forgiveness.
* Please pray that we will also have the financial resources to help our Christian brothers and sisters in Iraq continue to care for the poor and needy and for victims of war and terrorism. The Christians leaders we met with made it crystal clear: they want to love their neighbors and their enemies. They have never seen such openness among Muslim people and their leaders to God's love and practical assistance. But they do need believers in the West to partner with them. They cannot possibly meet the enormous needs or respond to the historic opportunities by themselves, nor would they want to if they could.