If you only had a few moments to leave your home, knowing that you might never return, what would you take with you? Jalila (75) from Iraq took her Bible. During her long displacement away from home, she was sustained by God’s Word – and now, thanks to your prayers and support, more Iraqi believers are receiving their own Bibles.
Image: Jalila is able to share her faith with her grandchildren using their very own Bibles, thanks to your prayers and support.
In 2014, so-called Islamic State (IS) extremists swept through Iraq, forcing Christians from their houses and burning down homes, villages and towns. Jalila’s town in the Nineveh Plain was on their target list, and so, as the extremists approached, Jalila found herself with not much time – and a difficult decision on her hands. But she knew the one thing she had to take with her. “The Bible is the food of the soul,” she says. “It is the most important thing in my life. 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.”
Jalila ended up in a refugee camp – a church hall shared with other families. Although her circumstances were challenging and her future uncertain, her Bible sustained her. “Through the Bible, I listen to His voice. I know the hand of my Saviour is with me,” she says. Each day, Jalila would gather others in the hall to study a Bible verse together. Thanks to you, Open Doors local partners were able to supply more Bibles for those in her study group!
Jalila has since returned home, after her town was liberated from the Islamic State extremists. She still has her original Bible. And, while her eyesight isn’t what it used to be (she uses a magnifying glass to read the small text), she is still sharing God’s Word – now with her grandchildren. Thanks to you, they have all received their own Bibles, along with other books to help them understand their faith. Her grandson, Aram, says, “I share the stories I read with my friends in school.”
Jalila is one of many believers who drew extraordinary comfort from her Bible when persecution arrived. School teacher Bashar (35) began to read the Bible when he was threatened by Islamic extremists. “We were the only Christian family in our neighbourhood in the city,” he says. “Extremists told us they were going to ‘clear the ground’ of Christians. They hated us. It made me depressed and scared. I thought I was useless.
“But one day I had a vision from the Lord; I saw Jesus being baptised in the Jordan, and I saw myself next to Him. A dove landed on my shoulder and said, ‘Stay strong, I will never leave you.’” As Bashar started reading the Bible, God changed his life: “I started to love myself and the people around me. I am here to testify to what Jesus has done in my life.”
Image: A church ruined by the so-called Islamic State in Iraq.
It’s so easy for us to pick up a Bible in a shop, or online, or even on our phones. But in Iraq, it’s far more difficult to obtain a copy of God’s Word. Through your gifts and prayers, Bibles are being distributed by Open Doors local partners like Ramy*. Every morning, he loads up his van with Bibles and other Christian literature and sets off around the country. His work has become more difficult due to the pandemic: the borders between different regions are closed and special permissions are needed to pass. But God is faithful, and the Bibles get to where they need to go.
Ramy’s delivery route often includes churches. Sedar is 21; she is passionate about her church and the Bible: “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.”
Thanks to you, these precious books are encouraging our sisters and brothers in Iraq who are rebuilding their communities after the invasion of IS. “The Bible is the most important book in the world, it is the book that teaches us most,” she says. “We need to rebuild our lives with a strong base. The Bible is such a base.”
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