In October 2014 just after the battle for Kobane had begun, and ISIS forces had taken over half of the city and were threatening to take the entire town, a team of young Israelis serving in the refugee camps traveled to Suruç, just across the border to pray for the city and to visit one of the only believing Kurdish families in the area.
The conflict was front and center in the world media, and the situation looked extremely bleak for the people of Kobane. Our team was there, and they witnessed riots all over southeast Turkey as Turkish forces prevented refugees from Kobane from entering Turkey. After traveling to the border area, the team prayed specifically that God would protect the city and not let it fall into the hands of ISIS, one team member said: “We called upon LORD of the angel armies to go and fight to protect the city and watch over its residents.”
We often read 2 Corinthians 10:4 regarding “the weapons of our warfare… being divinely powerful for the destruction of strongholds” and pray it out, but rarely do we see the answer to our petitions so quickly. However after three months of fighting by YPG forces (Syrian Kurds), Peshmerga (Northern Iraqi Kurds) together with U.S. Air Artillery, we learned that last week that the city has been freed from Islamic State fighters. Numerous websites indicated that ISIS lost more than 1,000 of their militants while the Kurds only suffered minimal injuries.
The team that was there risked travel through roadblocks, riots and tear gas to get to the border and pray. God answered their prayers in a few very surprising ways. First the city did not fall but was saved. Still, many of the Kobane’s residents who were forced to flee from the region fled to northern Iraq and the city of Erbil to take refuge, and this is where the story gets interesting.
Physical & spiritual relief
Arriving in a city already filled to capacity with refugees from the Nineveh plain, Mosul and Qaraqoosh, it was not easy to find refuge. But one pastor and his team who partners with us through our At the Crossroads network worked quickly to help house some of them in the church. The others who took shelter in tents and makeshift encampments in and around the city were particularly vulnerable in the winter weather. Pastor M. decided to contact various relief agencies and friends to see what could be done. He then personally worked with others to provide food and other supplies for more than 900 families.
What he didn’t expect was that they would be interested in his motivation for doing what he was doing as a Muslim background believer in Jesus. It was at this point that he was able to not only provide physical relief, food, heaters and blankets but also spiritual relief.
One day while distributing supplies he handed out more than 500 Bibles to people who asked for them. Almost all of these were to secular Muslims asking questions about His faith and of the team of people serving them. What an amazing opportunity to not only show God’s mercy but also but give away their hope and faith in Messiah. Pray that God would water the seeds that were sown over the last month.
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.
- Donate through
- Christ Church Jerusalem (Israel)
- Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East (UK)
- Caleb Company (US)
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.