Thank you all for your prayers and support this past year. It has been an intense one, but also filled with blessing. We are excited to give you an update on our teams and the refugee situation in Iraq and to let you know about some new opportunities coming up this next year to share the hope of Christ with those in need.
After ISIS forced a brief evacuation this summer, our Iraq teams are back and well settled. In fact, for the first time in 3 years we have teams of teachers in all three schools. We are working hard to add more staff to each of our teams in 2015.
There are over 3000 students at the Schools of the Medes this year. Many of the students have worked to organize fundraisers and gather supplies to help the refugees in their cities.
Our team members visited a refugee camp on the edge of the city to distribute food, shoes, socks, and coloring books. The students came out of the experience with a renewed sense of gratefulness as well as a greater desire to help. One said, “I realized that everything in my life could be taken from me in a moment, just like theirs was.” Another said, “I want to do more. I want to help more people. I’m going to get my friends to come next time. They need to be part of this!”
The situation continues to be difficult all throughout Northern Iraq. Still, one in six people are refugees, most being Yezidi or Christian. There are over 90 thousand people at Camp Xanke, just outside of Dohuk. This group of mostly Yezidis have no schools, very limited medical care, and are in desperate need of basic necessities like heaters. Who are the Yezidis?
Working with our national partners, we have been given permission to help by starting a school for 1000 refugee children in Camp Xanke. Our plan is to establish a fourth SGI team to serve this camp starting in January. Please be praying for wisdom in the many decisions to be made, for the people considering being part of this team, and for our national partners and the complex logistics in making this all work.
We’ve also wrapped up our fall outreach programs here in Nashville and are looking forward to continuing them after the Christmas holiday. The Middle Eastern women participating in our program have learned how to use the library, some have passed driving exams, and others are studying for citizenship. Our great team of volunteers has served these women so well, and the joy of hospitality has built better relationships and provided for deep conversations.
Thank you again for your prayers and support. Your gift during this Season will go a long way in helping us launch this new team in January and continue strong for the coming year.
Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. ~Luke 2:10