Celebrating, Rebuilding, Bringing Peace

Dear Friends of Stand With Iraqi Christians,

Early last week I was on a Skype call to Iraq with our partner, Hanna. He was calling to let me know that soon Haider al-Abadi, the Prime Minister of Iraq, would be holding an international press conference to congratulate the Iraqi military and its allies on liberating Mosul from Daesh after 9 months of brutal close-quarter fighting.

While this is good news, our conversation wasn’t celebratory.

That day he also sent me a video, shot by some friends of his in Mosul. The scene of devastation can only be compared to Berlin, or Dresden after the carpet bombing at the end of WWII: Nothing left standing in a vast landscape of utter urban destruction, and the complete, stupefying absence of human life.

Our conversation also wasn’t just about mourning though, either.

It was about how, now that the worst fighting is over, SWIC and its partners can participate in the new, hopeful, but very fragile situation confronting the Christians who wish to remain in Iraq, including those who want to return to their homes on the Nineveh Plains.

Incredibly, up to 100 Christian families have already returned to the devastation of Qaraqosh to try to rebuild their lives, communities, and churches, and are desperately in need of assistance for basic necessities. In August, SWIC will begin a project to dig wells in blighted neighborhoods where families are struggling to survive. This is only the beginning of taking action to support our friends and partners. With your help, we will continue to walk with those seeking a new life after the desolation of war.

This is a very delicate and crucial time in Iraq, and we have been in close contact with Father Faiz Jerjees, the Anglican Curate at St. George’s in Baghdad, and the Rt. Rev. Michael Lewis and Archdeacon Bill Schwartz of the Anglican Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf, as well as the Episcopal Church in the U.S. regarding next steps.

The expulsion of Daesh’s military from Mosul is both a real and a symbolic victory for the region and its people. Yet the work of Iraqis, the international community, and organizations like SWIC to help build a diverse, peaceful and prosperous Iraq, including for its religious minorities, is just beginning.

In the coming days and weeks you will be receiving more information and regular updates from SWIC. We are organizing another mission trip in October. In the meantime, spread the word, awaken the hearts around you, and know we can make a difference together—to bring peace where there has been violence, life where there has been so much death—in the very place Christianity was born and took root.

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