Since Islamic State’s initial attack on Mosul and then subsequently on the Christians and Yezidis of the surrounding area of Sinjar Province — which precipitated the initial refugee crisis last August into northern Iraq — IS has turned its sights on the Kurds of Syria. Media attention for about three weeks in October and November focused on the battle for Kobane in northern Syria, right on the border with Turkey, not far from Urfa and close to the Haran of Abraham and Genesis 12.

Refugee shanty in Erbil, Iraq.

Refugee shanty in Erbil, Iraq.

Although the battle continues for Kobane, many of the area’s Kurdish residents have fled. After initially crossing over to Turkey, most are either now in northern Iraq or still in Syria but living in refugee camps near the northeast border with Iraq. All this as recent UN statistics put the total number of refugees, or displaced people, at more than 7 million, nearly half of the total population of Syria.

Last week the Middle East saw one of the most severe winter storms of 2014/15. Snow has been falling since Jan. 8 at higher elevations and even at some places lower than 1,000 meters above sea level, like here in the Jerusalem. As a result, the situation for many of the refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, southeast Turkey, Syria and northern Iraq has become quite difficult and even serious.

Ministry partner with a Kobane refugee in Iraq.

Ministry partner with a Kobane refugee in Iraq.

In our desire to continue to support many of our partners along the Isaiah 19 Highway who are working with refugees, we want to continue to ask you to support relief efforts in the region. One of our main partners in Erbil, Iraq has had the unique privilege of welcoming  refugees from the Kobane area into his church. Most if not all of these Kurds are Muslims, so please pray that the mercy shown them by Muslim-background believers breakdowns barriers to the gospel message.

In addition, many of those who are serving have told us that the need is at times so overwhelming that they are struggling with both physical and spiritual fatigue. We would ask that you continue to lift up in prayer both national and international workers as they pour out their lives in service for these Kurds, Yezidis, Muslims and Assyrian Christians who are spending their first winter displaced and struggling to understand how their lives have changed so suddenly and drastically.

Israeli team preparing to travel to refugees

Finally, our team of young Israelis that went to serve in southeast Turkey and northern Iraq this last fall are planning to return in the next few months with the vision of establishing a base in the area both for prayer and practical service. Please be in prayer for this initiative, coordinated by Derech Avraham, that God would put the right team together, provide for this trip, and guide us as we seek our part in being a “light to the nations”.

To contribute financially

If you would like to contribute to either the ongoing relief effort in the region or the team that will be traveling this winter from Israel, please give through one of our partners below.

The funds will be used to continue to support the families housed in a church in Erbil as well as those still in tents. The biggest needs are heating fuel for the buildings, food supplies and basic needs like gas heaters for those in the tents and living on the streets.

Thank you.

%d bloggers like this: