Tuesday, October 14, 2008


(Erbil, Iraq) -- Jesus said "it is more blessed to give than to receive." He was so right. Few things in life are as wonderful as giving an unexpected gift at an unexpected time, especially to a child, and to see that child's face light up in joy and deep gratitude.
As the new school year begins, The Joshua Fund continues helping followers of Jesus in the epicenter give much-needed relief supplies to needy children. Over the summer, because of your generous donations, we were able to fund the transport of three trucks filled with relief supplies to the northern Iraqi region known as Kurdistan. Among the materials you helped send: children's backpacks, school supplies, desks, chairs and other school furniture. These supplies are now being distributed by local Iraqi Christians and what a blessing it is.
In late September, Jeremy Grafman -- Joshua Fund's director of special projects -- and I had the privilege of traveling to the city of Erbil, the capital of the Kurdish region of Iraq, to participate in and observe several relief projects. At one school in Erbil, we helped hand out backpacks to some 350 needy children, some of whom were Muslims and some of whom were from a nominal Christian background. Each backpack contained reams of notebook paper, lots of pens and pencils, art supplies, and a stuffed animal. Often, illustrated children's Bibles in Arabic or Kurdish, copies of the children's version of the Jesus film, and other Christian literature for children are provided in the backpacks that are distributed through TJF funding. In this case, the school principal had previously allowed Bibles and Christian literature to be made available to those children who wanted them so they weren't provided in the backpacks.
As you can from the pictures, the backpack distribution was a big hit. The kids were so excited to meet with us, to have a chance to practice a little of the English they are learning, and to receive these fun gifts from Christians in the West. Their sweet faces were absolutely beaming. One of the little girls actually gave us handfuls of her own little stash of candy to say "thank you." When a needy child in a war-torn country gives away her own candy of her own volition, you can be sure she has been touched by your love. The principal, teachers and staff were also deeply grateful and kept telling us how thankful they were for the backpacks, the school furniture and our visit. We had a wonderful opportunity to sit with several of them and learn more about what is happening in their school. We also had the privilege of letting them know that followers of Jesus in the U.S. and Canada love them and the children they care for, are praying for them, and are eager to continue helping them.
On behalf of the entire Joshua Fund team, please allow me to say thank you for the kind and generous investment you're making in this work. Because of you, we are able to bless children in Israel, the West Bank, Gaza, Iraq and elsewhere in the name of Jesus and through local Christians in each of these places. Please continue to pray for these children, their parents, their teachers and for all the people of Iraq. Security is improving. The economy is growing. The Church is growing. But Iraqis continue to face enormous challenges and need the love and grace of Jesus Christ more than ever before. Thanks again, and may the Lord richly bless you as you help us bless Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus.