I am writing this post from Erbil, Iraq, where I had the opportunity to meet with Christians from across Northern Iraq. One brother recently told our team: “These are not refugees, they are our relatives!”
I met with some of our family members in a mall which has been converted into a refugee center. VOM has been able to stand with the Christians and to help meet some of their basic needs. I met others near the top of a remote mountain where they’re serving and reaching out to others, and I met with “relatives” in empty warehouses which VOM has been able to convert into “homes” for these dear families.
I sat in a dark refugee apartment, with no power, poring over Scripture with a flashlight. I worshiped with over 100 brave believers in an above-ground church, 24 hours after an ISIS attack less than 30 miles away from their building.
During almost every one of these encounters, I was met with gratitude. People would walk over to me, grab my hand, and with broad smiles, they would say “Thank you.”
On several occasions, I found myself naturally responding, “No, thank you!”
Following a ministry visit, the Apostle Paul highlighted three specific men and thanked them for refreshing him: “For they refreshed my spirit and yours. Therefore acknowledge such men” (1 Corinthians 16:18).
I want to publicly thank the Christians in Iraq today, our family members who are serving on what we call “the front line.” I pause, on behalf of all of us, to say “thank you” to our Iraqi family:
Dr. Jason Peters serves in VOM’s International Ministries department, traveling frequently to meet with our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world. He lived overseas for five years and has ministered in more than 30 countries as diverse as Cuba, Nepal, Iraq and Indonesia. He and his wife, Kimberly, along with their five children, count it a great honor to serve with the persecuted church.