Why Do We Do This?
It is our mission to support, through friendship and material aid, the right of Christian communities in Iraq to survive and thrive.
Stand With Iraqi Christians is blessed to have a wonderful team who gives their all, day in and day out to support our Christian brothers and sisters in Iraq.
Father Christopher Bishop
Founder & President
It all started at a children’s Pageant rehearsal at Christmas 2014. I knew the father of some kids in my church had been living and working somewhere in Iraq, so when he brought his kids to the rehearsal I made small talk and asked him how it was going? “It’s going great for me, but do you know what’s going on with the Christians over there?” “Uh, not really.” He proceeded to tell me that Daesh (ISIS) had driven 120,000 Christians from their homes in cities in northern Iraq across the border to Kurdistan (a semi-autonomous region) and they were living in severe conditions of over-crowding and desperate poverty. “Yeah, some of these Christian communities have been around since Jesus time, and its common knowledge over there that if something isn’t done for them in 10-15 years there won’t be any Christians left in Iraq. People there are wondering where the heck the other Christians are.”
I don’t know what the voice of God sounds like. At that moment, though, I heard the unmistakable words “You are going over there.” Thus began this journey. My Episcopal congregation St. Martin’s in Radnor PA embraced the mission, we raised some money, and in 2015 I went to distribute it among our new partners there and filmed our documentary Where Is Our Place?Since then I’ve been back twice and SWIC has grown, but not as much as my heart for the wonderful, faithful friends we have made in Iraq. They have given me more in spirit and friendship than I can ever hope to give them, and I am more grateful to them than I have words to express.
The mission of SWIC is “To support through friendship and material aid the right of Christian communities in Iraq to survive and thrive.” My passion is to use God-given talents to identify and support people who are persecuted and have few choices. There is a fit between the SWIC mission, those dedicated people who started this amazing ministry, and my own passion.
I come to my role as Executive Director after being a business executive, Education for Ministry (EFM) Mentor, and Christian formation director. I also served on the board of multiple non-profit organizations. Additional volunteer roles include being a member of the National and World Mission Commission and Chair of the Christian Formation Commission in the Diocese of Southern Ohio. I learned early in my life to look beyond my own immediate area, helping empower those who may be poor or persecuted (link opens in new tab). With a growing community of committed people, the work SWIC has started–to provide friendship and support so Iraqi Christians can make their own choices–will grow and we will build on the foundation of Christ’s love. If you wish to ask questions, make suggestions, or donate time, talent and/or treasure, please write me at ExecDirSWIC@gmail.com.
Treasurer & Secretary
I embraced the SWIC mission right from the beginning. What appealed to me was the original concept of the mission—identifying specific communities in Erbil with whom we could have a direct relationship. While providing financial assistance is always critical, my passion was to make sure that these Christians were not forgotten, and that we made decisions based on their needs and not what we thought was best. To date, I think we have accomplished just that. Thanks to Father Bishop’s personal visits, the Iraqi Christians know that we are telling their story. The task is daunting, but every successful mission begins by taking some action no matter how small. I am proud to be part of this, and I know that SWIC will just continue to grow.
Assistant Missioner & Merchandising Director
I joined the SWIC team in order to stand with like-minded persons against genocide. Not to do so for me is unthinkable, something close to moral cowardice. I want to stand for our brothers and sisters in Iraq and beyond. They need us, so we have a responsibility to help.
Harry G. Hayman
As a lifelong member of the church, I have always wanted to see St. Martins not only survive, but thrive and I wanted to do my part, no matter how small. After attending the services one Sunday, I got into a long and passionate conversation with Father Chris. For those of you who know Father Chris, you know what I mean. I was struck by his passion and commitment to not only the church, but an organization he started to help Christians in Iraq. As a member of Amnesty International since 1987, human rights have always been something I have cared very deeply about and after speaking with Father Chris, I decided I could assist him by meeting with him on a weekly basis, whether at the church, his home, my office, or simply on the phone to ensure that his efforts were organized and effective. I am also hoping that Father Chris’s efforts on behalf of SWIC will increase the awareness of St. Martins along the way as well.
While attending a presentation of the SWIC film Where is Our Place?, I heard the the co-producer of the film, Andrew Bilindabagado say this: “When we consider the plight of the Christians in Iraq, it is not okay to do two things: it is not okay to lose hope, and it is not okay to do nothing.” That is when I made my decision to join the SWIC team.
A friend introduced me to SWIC, and before that I have to admit that I had never thought much about the plight of Christians in the Middle East. I admire Fr. Chris and the people of St. Martin’s, who saw a need and chose to take action; I love the way the organization builds relationships with Christians in Iraq and takes their lead from the people on the ground to find out which needs should be met. I am honored to be a part of this team.