For persecuted Christians the Bible is a treasure they hold onto in their darkest hours. But not everyone can just order a Bible or the latest Bible study book on Amazon.
In Iraq, a country haunted by persecution and other violence, getting your hand on a new Bible or Christian book is more difficult then adding one to your digital basket.
With your help, Open Doors partners like Ramy have been providing and delivering Bibles and helping to train leaders for specific groups such as young people, women and children.
Image: Boxes filled with Bibles in the back of Ramy’s van.
It’s 6:00 AM when distributor Ramy loads his van with books. Early mornings are unavoidable when you are a Bible distributor. But Ramy isn’t affected by bad moods in the morning – not when he is about to deliver the best book he ever read to his brothers and sisters. “Let’s pray before we go,” he says while folding his hands.
Today the delivery is going to a church in a village on the Nineveh Plain.
Inside the church we meet 21-year-old Sedar. Her eyes sparkle when she talks about God, His Church, and His book:
“The Bible is the most important book in the world, it is the book that teaches us most: it is fundamental for every human being.”
At a time in which the rebuilding of the church community after displacement by Islamic extremists is central, Sedar says the Bible is essential.
Image: Sedar and her friend Hanar receiving Bibles.
“We need to rebuild our lives with a strong base. The Bible is such a base: it’s the book that takes us to our eternal life and gives us happiness.
“I would like to tell people to come to Jesus with all their difficulties and struggles. It’s good to pray together when we feel weak. And we shouldn’t forget about our Bible: reading the Bible gives inner peace.”
Next, we visit 75-year-old Jalila in her house. Her eyes don’t work as well as they used to, but this doesn’t stop her from reading the Bible: she just uses a magnifying glass to read the small letters.
“The Bible is the food of the soul. It is the most important thing in my life.”
Jalila’s Bible was one of the few things she took from her house when Islamic extremists were approaching her town in 2014 and she had to flee.
“I stood in front of the bookshelf, not knowing if I would ever return. I took my Bible with me and asked the Lord to protect the rest of my home as we left.”
Image: Jalila using a magnifying glass to read her Bible.
Jalila never regretted only taking her Bible – the book was the one object guiding her through displacement in a ‘refugee camp’, which was a church hall shared with several families. Jalila wasn’t only reading the Bible herself, she was also gathering others to study a verse from the Word together each day.
After her town was liberated from the Islamic extremists of IS, Jalila returned home. She now reads the Bible daily with her grandchildren. She is happy that she doesn’t stand alone in her efforts: with your support her grandchildren have received a children’s Bible and other books that help them understand their faith. Aram takes after his grandma in sharing: “I share the stories I read with my friends in school,” he says.
Further down the road we meet 65-year-old Sabah. His bookcase has a prominent place in the living room. He’s collected quite a few books over the years, but one remains his favourite: the Bible.
“The Bible is my best friend,” he says.
Spending 10 years in an Iranian prison as a prisoner of war, he experienced the power of that ‘best friend’ intensely: ” I used to read Bible verses out loud and discuss them with my fellow Christian inmates. My friend Mohammed didn’t participate, but he listened in on our conversations from a distance. He became a Christian. But he wasn’t accepted by his community and when he went home, he was killed for his faith.”
Sabah planted the Bible loving seed in his son, Miron, from a very young age. Now Miron is a Bible lover and teacher himself. Father and son love to talk about the Bible together.
Image: Sabah and his son, Miron.
“The Bible is the spirit of the body,” says Miron. “Without your Bible your body lives without being alive.”
The day is coming to an end, the van is empty. Inside the church people come together to study the Word of God.
We leave the village in the Nineveh Plain with the words of Jalila resounding in our minds: “Through the Bible, I listen to His voice. I know the hand of my Saviour is with me.”
Ramy closes the back of his van and starts his engine. Tomorrow new Bible lovers await.
Grab a copy of Hidden Word, our special resource to help you learn Scripture by heart. Get inspired by persecuted Christians who memorise big chunks of God’s Word and challenge yourself to deeply know the promises in the Bible.
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imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.