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Ministry by the vulnerable with the vulnerable


Presbyterian churches in Iraq faithful to Matthew 25 call to ‘serve the least of these’

March 7, 2020

It’s time for a break at Iraq’s Basra Church Preschool. Pictured are a some of the children benefiting from desalination equipment that’s been installed at the church. (Photo by Elmarie Parker)

Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) partners from the Assembly of Evangelical (Presbyterian) Churches in Iraq are sharing, in their own words, about the Matthew 25 ministries to which they have been called.

Ministries bringing hope to incarcerated women and children in Kirkuk, housing to Muslim and Christian families displaced from their homes in the Nineveh Plain and Mosul, and clean, drinkable water to people in southern Iraq are ministries supported by U.S. Presbyterians.

Ministry to incarcerated women and children

“I write to you today to provide an update on a recent visit to the Kirkuk women’s jail,” explained Mayada Jazrawi, who oversees the prison visitation ministry of the Presbyterian Church in Kirkuk.

“There were 52 women and 15 children. As has been the case in our recent visits, the majority of the women in jail were widows of suspected ISIS terrorists. Many of them were familiar with us, including the newer ones who hadn’t met us before — the rest of the women had told them about us.

“Initially, we couldn’t speak with them very much because of the large number of women and children. Additionally, the new cells had large columns that made seeing all of them at once difficult. So, we divided among them and started to speak with them and write down their prayer requests. One woman thanked us — she had never seen people who wanted to plant peace and who exemplified the love of God more than us.”

Jazrawi requests prayers that these women might know the Lord Jesus Christ as the God of peace and mercy.

The is the state of the home of one Christian family when the family returned to the Ninevah Plain earlier this year. (Photo by Elmarie Parker)

Ministry of housing for displaced families

The National Evangelical (Presbyterian) Churches in Kirkuk, Iraq, are ministering to Muslim and Christian families displaced from their homes in the Nineveh Plain and Mosul since 2014.

 “Like Ezekiel, who answered the Lord’s call to do the unlikely and seemingly absurd task of speaking to bones, so have you, our friends at PC(USA), answered the Lord’s call to speak life into your Iraqi brothers and sisters halfway across the world.

“We have continued to see more Christian internally displaced families returning to their homes that were previously occupied by ISIS. Your gift was used as a part of the internally displaced resettlement programs that our church has continued to support. These projects include financing home repairs, purchasing new appliances, and ensuring that water and electricity are once again connected to the re-inhabited homes.”

Ministry of clean water

During the summer of 2018, the water contamination and shortage in the south of Iraq reached a peak, leading to several thousand citizens in Basra becoming dangerously ill, even to the point of death for several hundred. The water was so contaminated that showers caused severe chemical skin burns.

The Presbyterian Church in Basra responded, supported by their Presbyterian friends in Kirkuk and Baghdad, who were sending shipments of bottled water for them to distribute to those in need.

The National Evangelical (Presbyterian) Church in Basra also began to research desalination equipment so they could process larger quantities of water for those in need. The project cost nearly $16,000. Through Presbyterian World Mission, the Iraq Partnership Network and Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, the funds were sent to meet this need.

“With the funds received from Presbyterian World Mission and Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, we were able to purchase the desalination unit at a 10% discount, two water tanks (holding 3 and 5 metric tons of water respectively), two electrical pumps, all the necessary electrical supplies, and the materials needed to install a concrete pad and sun-shield shed,” said Dr. Zuhair Fathallah, elder at the church. “The desalination equipment requires monthly filter changes and continuing maintenance, which costs a little more than $1,000 a year. This will be a continuing funding need.

“After the installation of this equipment, we have now been able to provide the children of the kindergarten and the nursery schools (over 250 children, 98% of whom are from non-Christian families) with clean potable water while they are at school with us, and to the schools’ staff and the children’s families. Members of the congregation can use this water supply, along with anybody from the community who is in need, for no cost to the beneficiaries.”

 Rev. Elmarie Parker, Regional Liaison for Syria, Lebanon and Iraq

Today’s Focus:  Assembly of Evangelical (Presbyterian) Churches in Iraq

Let us join in prayer for: 

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Stephanie Vasquez, Administrative Services Group (A Corp)
Flor Velez-Diaz, Office of the General Assembly

Let us pray:

Lord, we praise you for the opportunity to share this message of hope and possibilities you give when we open ourselves to your call. Amen.