Story Iraq | 30 August 2023



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In photo: Jubran, an Iraqi believer helps in the Centre of Hope

Men in Iraq don’t cry, don’t show their grief, sadness.
That is almost written in stone in the minds of many men in that Middle Eastern country. But how not to cry in a country where crisis stumbled over crises in the past decades? Wars, civil war, terrorist attacks, persecution, an economic crisis and all the individual crisis Iraqi people went through.

‘Healing through the Bible’, is a method used in Iraq to heal the traumatized in the country, and yes, sometimes men will cry. For example in one of the cities in the center of Iraq. The 28-year-old Jubran is manager of the so-called Pool of Siloam Ecumenical Centre, a centre of hope that welcomes between 350 and 500 people of all ages.

Through all activities offered there, they want to help the participants to receive healing. The activities can be everything from football to a devotional time, from one-on-one conversations to creative group activities. At the centre, people in the discipleship activities are encouraged to read Christian books that also speak about healing. Jubran: “We want to help people to recover from the trauma they are in. Iraq has gone through so many wars, civil war.”

Jubran feels called by the Lord for the ministry he has now. “There was a vision, a message from God, a calling. One day I opened my eyes and saw myself involved in this work.” But God started to prepare him already way before that - in 2014, when the displacement from the Nineveh Plain happened because ISIS took control over that region. About 120,000 Christians fled to safer places like Erbil and to this city. “Soon we started an initiative to help those people. It started on Facebook, trying to mobilise people to help them. Those people hadn’t anything. So we started bringing to them what we had to help them.” For Jubran this was the start of his involvement with vulnerable people.

“Later on, I took a course with Father Daniel in the north of the country where we prepared ourselves for this work. In 2019, with Father Daniel and my friend Hani, we started this centre in the south as we saw the need for it. We had, and have, a great team of young people that helps us.”

Recent Iraqi history has all the ingredients to leave many Iraqi people traumatized. “We've had so many wars, my whole life there was war and civil war.” Of course, there have been times without war, but in those periods terrorist attacks added to the trauma of the people.

All the workers in the centre are trained before they start working there. In the centre, Jubran receives children, adult men and women and teenagers. “We offer many activities, but our main goal is to bring the healing message from the Bible. In all our activities we open the Bible.” Sometimes there are cultural hindrances. “In our culture, especially men are not meant to cry. We try to teach them that it is okay to cry. Even Jesus cried, we show that to them in the Bible. Jesus cried for example when he lost his friend. When He cried, it’s okay that we also express our feelings.” Jubran says that his staff is not just teaching this, they do it themselves too. “When we say that people should express their feelings, we have to do that in the first place ourselves. We cry with them. We cannot teach something that we do not do ourselves.”

“I see results of our work every single day in the lives of the people. We hope that this will only grow. I see it also in the lives of our staff. They show a great change in their lives since they joined in 2019. They are changed for the better.”

The staff take care of each other, as all hear almost daily the hard stories of the people who come to the center. “We hear so many things. We talk with each other, as those things affect us too. We ourselves need help, we’re like them [the people participating in the activities]. We help them, but we are helped too; it’s a kind of circle. It’s a complicated circle, when I give help to someone, I don’t know from whom I will get help when needed.”


"The Bible says so much about trauma and how to help people with it"

Why ‘Healing through the Bible’? “The Bible says so much about trauma and how to help people with it. From the Bible we can learn how to deal with our pain, how to live in peace.” Jubran gives an example of a verse from the Bible that helped him to do this work. “It’s 2 Kings 7:9, Then they said to each other, What we’re doing is not right. This is a day of good news and we are keeping it to ourselves. If we wait until daylight, punishment will overtake us. Let’s go at once and report this to the royal palace. We as Christians have so much to give. But often we keep ourselves silent. The message from God to me - to all of us - is that we don’t only live to eat and work, but we’re here to help each other. We have to give help and love to the other, to the hurting people, to the people in need.” That is exactly what Jubran and the two other founders of the center do.

Jubran tells some stories of persons who benefit from the work of the center. “A child who lost his mother in a car accident. He was walking with his mother when she was all of a sudden hit by a car. It traumatized the boy. He started isolating himself, didn’t go to school, didn’t leave the house anymore. We invited him to the center. He didn’t come. We went to his house for a visit, we told him what we do and how that could help him. Indeed, he came. He started to get really involved and we now see a great change in his life. He is a new person now.”

“We hear many stories, children that lost both parents, parents who lost sons or daughters, persons who lost brothers or sisters because of bombing or accidents. But also all those who were displaced for a long time. Some struggled with questions like ‘Where is God?’, ‘If he exists, why doesn’t He intervene?’ Some even stopped believing. By using the Bible, we can help them to find answers, to discover why things are happening in our lives.”


"Jesus believed that we would be able to give hope"

Through the center that has activities three to five days a week, Jubran and the others are spreading hope. “That is why Jesus called us. He believed that we would be able to give hope, He gave us a message to the people. I hope the work will multiply, that there will be more people at more places offering this help. Maybe in Iraq we now have some 100 persons doing this, but there are millions who need hope, healing.”

In Iraq there are now 150 centers of hope, churches that want to make a difference in their surroundings. Will you stand with those Iraqis who serve the Lord by serving the people around them? Help them to disciple, to bring healing, to bring hope, to offer fun to the children?

When asked what Christians around the world should pray for him, Jubran answers, “That God will give me and others the power to help. That He will give us the patience and the love, so that we can give love to the people.” He adds, “There are no words that are enough to say how thankful I am to the doners of this center. Because you help us, we can give help, give healing through the Bible. Thank you!”


Our work in Iraq

Over the last eight years, Open Doors’ local partners have addressed the stigma on mental health care among the Christian community in Iraq. Now there are three functioning trauma care centers as well as a two-year counselling school for Christians in professions that encounter traumatized people.

Open Doors’ local partners will continue to walk beside the Christian community in Iraq. With your support we enable the local church to be a beacon of hope in this war-torn country. More than 30 caregivers currently take part in the two-year trauma care school. We also organize shorter trauma awareness courses, conferences and retreats for local Christians. The three trauma care centers that were set up with our help are also supported with practical resources.


Centers of Hope

Centers of Hope are active local churches that are supported with a number of hope-giving projects. Projects to grow ministry towards women, youth and couples, and to strengthen discipleship efforts. Projects to build healthy leaders and create trauma awareness, with members involved in tasks such as teaching and (pastoral) care. Projects that inspire to find their prophetic voice and speak up about injustice. And projects to rebuild healthy incomes and livelihoods for Christians and reach out with Christ’s love into the community.

The exact activities differ from between each Centre of Hope. Larger programs, such as those for church leaders and the year-long trauma awareness course, are shared between several churches. Sometimes we partner with other organizations in supporting a church.

Centres of Hope provide what the Christians need right now: hope and new perspective. They need this to accomplish their dream of becoming a beacon of light in their societies. Without our help, many Christians would lose hope completely and find ways to leave the country. Christianity in Iraq and Syria will dwindle, if not disappear.

In Iraq there are 150 such centers of hope, in Syria 287.

please pray
  • For our Centres of Hope, that it would continue to be a beacon of God's light in the Middle East
  • For the Lord's abundant provision for the ministry to continue and be a blessing and a place for healing
  • For God's healing touch upon every individual who have been victims of war and casualties 
Today, will you help rewrite futures for Christians in the Middle East? 

Every PHP 2,350 will help provide a month of medical care and support to three persecuted Christians.

Every PHP 4,200 will help train and disciple vulnerable young quarry workers, to strengthen their faith.

Every PHP 6,100 will help give financial security to a persecuted Christian family, through a small business loan.