Iraq: Young leader Martin shares his story

We all know by now that the situation facing Christians in Iraq and Syria has been pretty dire for the past few years, But, thanks to your support we’re able to provide 27,000 families with monthly food relief.

But it’s not just about emergency relief. Open Doors is supporting churches and church leaders in Iraq as they disciple and encourage young people while they are displaced from their homes.

Two years ago, youth leader Martin (25) fled Karamles with the rest of his church when so-called Islamic State (IS) extremists took over their village near Mosul.

Together they fled to Erbil, in Kurdish-controlled Iraq. “The displacement causes a type of stress that we haven’t experienced before,” says Martin, thinking especially about the young people in his group. “You have to realise that IS didn’t only take their house, the place they felt most comfortable. IS also seized their university and their future.” He knows exactly how they feel: “They used to be my classmates in Karamles primary school,” he says with a smile.

Martin works from a portacabin where he helps teach young people. Despite being displaced, Martin has been able to continue with his training to be a church leader. Through a local partner, Open Doors has supported him with an online pastoral course at university level, which he is putting into practice.

“I teach them how to translate the words of Jesus into their own lives. The most important thing I want to teach the youngsters is that Jesus trusted His Father completely, even in the most miserable situation of being on the cross. I want them to know that we can trust in God, trust in Jesus.”

Martin could have chosen to emigrate with his family – but he didn’t. “This continuing situation has just solidified my calling. I am needed here at this moment to feed my people with charity and with hope.” And the young people appreciate that. A girl sitting in the front row says, “This stress makes it hard to focus on Jesus, but Martin is helping us. He is a good teacher.”

Blackout for silenced Christians in Iraq and Syria

Take part in the Blackout and get sponsored to go 48 hours offline, instead spending time in prayer for our family in the Middle East!

Pray now…

  • For Martin and other leaders as they continue to serve their displaced community in Erbil
  • Thanking God for the new sense of hope amongst the youth
  • For God to make a way for them to be able to return safely home.

We support people who are beaten, tortured,
imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.