It has been a very good few days in the US. First I was at the Cherry Hill Connect Church in New Jersey for one day preaching at their church in Philadelphia and Cherry Hill, New Jersey. There were lots of my old friends from Iraq present and it was a real celebration of the Glory of G-d.
I have now left Cherry Hill and have come over to one of my greatest places in the US Wheaton College. Illinois. That wonderful college which is the foremost evangelical liberal arts University in the US and being most famous for producing Dr Billy Graham and being the home to the Billy Graham Centre. Yesterday consisted of non-stop lectures as well as the major chapel service with well over a thousand students in attendance. I will continue giving the non-stop lectures over the next two days.
Meanwhile the work continues in Jordan and Northern Iraq which I miss. I love being here so much but I know where and with who I belong. I miss all my people who have lost so much but they know they have everything because Jesus is still with them. We had a wonderful time together on Friday as we celebrated the Lord’s Supper on an open-air balcony in Amman we had the great worship leader Jeremy Camp with us along with Pastor Steven Berger from Nashville Tennessee. We knew without doubt that the Lord was there and His Spirit was with us.
For those of you who are on Facebook, this is the place of my most regular updates with photos and videos. My private page is full but you may like my Canon Andrew White Public Figure page where you can get our daily pictures of what we are doing.
This week our key message has once again been from Romans 8:16 -17: Heirs, Suffering and Glory. We are heirs of G-d who have suffered and know His GLORY. Now that is good.
As we come to this most Holy Season of Passover and Easter we are acutely aware of how much we have to give thanks for. As I sat down with my former teacher, a Hassidic Rabbi, the other day here in Jerusalem I asked him; what does Passover mean to you? With great joy he answered that it is a feast of liberation. Liberation – past, present and future. Just like Easter he said and indeed it is. As many of us celebrate this time of the year we must not forget the many we are called to serve who have nothing. No homes, little food and yet they know without doubt that they have been through the waters and G-d is still with them.
As we look back at the last few months it is phenomenal to see what we have been doing and been able to achieve. Our work continues to focus on Iraq, Israel/Palestine and Jordan serving particularly Iraqi refugees and internally displaced people. The stories are so terrible that it is difficult to transmit them but what we have been able to achieve is simply phenomenal. We now have in place a highly successful school for the Iraqi refugee children in Jordan. We have an extensive feeding and medical program and have been able to provide a significant amount of housing for people who were living in worse than slums.
So the work has been divided very clearly into the following genres:
Food and Relief
Medical Help and Clinic Support
Provision of Housing and Accommodation
This provision has changed the lives of those most in need. We can only do all this with your help and support. We thank you for what you have enabled us to do. These are not far flung distant people, they are our family and our people. I give thanks to the Almighty for the privilege of serving these people. Dr Sarah serving the thousands in Northern Iraq gives thanks to G-d for what we are called to do together. Will you stand with us and help us to make G-d’s love known at this time of LIBERATION.
Just the other day I was with a grandmother and her granddaughter. The 15 year-old had come home from a night with her grandmother and found both parents and her four brothers shot dead on the floor. At first all we could do was hold her and cry with her. We started to provide for her then one day we got a little smile from her. Then just the other day we got two of the former members of our Church in Baghdad to take her shopping for clothes. Then suddenly the smile returned to her face and she became ours. Her grandmother cried so hard and said she had and prayed so hard that G-d would send somebody to see them then we arrived as if from heaven. You helped us get there.
Please will you help us to keep going to them and many other people. One little girl just run up to me and held me tight and told me over and over again that I had poured the water over her. Whenever I see her she is holding the picture of me baptising her. When the family fled the ISIS terrorists all they took with them was the picture of me marrying the parents and baptising Myrna.
Your help of just a few £’s or $’s will help us bring hope to our family this Easter. May you truly know the liberation power of G-d this Passover and Easter.
Blessings my Friend and Family,
Canon Andrew White
Make a donation
You can give on line via our website at www.frrme.org/donate or by sending a cheque made payable to “FRRME” to our UK address:
FRRME, PO Box 220, Petersfield, GU32 9DL
You can give online via the FRRME America website atwww.frrmeamerica.org/donate or by sending a cheque made payable to “FRRME America” at:
Executive Director, FRRME America, 282 Patricktown Road, Somerville, Maine 04348
FRRME are working to meet the needs of Iraqi refugees fleeing the conflict in Iraq supporting 270 refugee families in the Markaa region of Amman with cash transfers to help them pay for accommodation, healthcare and food. FRRME have also partnered with Father Khalil and the Messengers of Peace Association who run the Roman Catholic Latin School in Amman. Together we provide teaching to over 100 Iraqi refugee children three days a week, without FRRME’s assistance these children would not be receiving education.
FRRMEhas been providing emergency relief in the North of Iraq since July 2014 when the crisis escalated. We have been providing food packages, water, clothing, bedding and mobility aids for the disabled to internally displaced Iraqis in and around Erbil and Dohuk. FRRME supports established churches in the North of Iraq such as the Armenian and Syrian Orthodox Churches who are assisting Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) by delivering regular relief supplies. FRRME also delivers relief supplies to IDP camps and centres across the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.
Greetings and blessings from Jerusalem. After several days of cold and snowy weather the sun has now returned to Jerusalem. When the Middle East is cold it is very difficult to keep warm. This is the dessert and it can’t cope with the cold and neither can I in the midst of it. It is very difficult to keep warm and the country almost shuts down it was not possible to even have any serious meetings for several days.
Meanwhile life at St George’s Baghdad continues to go well. The Church and Clinic are in good shape. The Bishop recently visited and appointed Faiz as the head chaplain and me as the vicar emeritus, this is indeed a great act for celebration. The situation in the Iraq however remains terrible. The refugees displaced from the homes and towns have been suffering so much in the cold of the winter. Our team up there have been doing a great job continuing to provide food and warm clothing to the hundreds in distress. Dr Sarah continues to head up the work. We will be going to see her tomorrow in Jordan where we also have a lot of work to do amongst our refugees there.
Our work may be rather overwhelming and depressing at times but it is truly awesome to do the work of G-d in this place, and see his glory is truly awesome.
Yesterday I had three very different events. The first was with Rabbi Melchior, he got me along to a meeting that he did not really want, it was with the leader of the Universal Peace Initiative. It is basically an initiative of the Unification Church (the Meanies) and he and I don’t like them. Maybe people are going to not like me for saying that but that is the truth.
Then I met with Pastor Seven Koury our major Christian partner in Jerusalem and Bethlehem. We have decided to call our work Ishmael and Isaac moving forward. So there is a good foundation planned for much of our relief work here being done through the church.
The final meeting was more than amazing I took my rabbi for dinner. Many of you will know that I studied at an Ultra Orthodox Yeshiva. My Hassidic Rabbi (pictured) was Shimon Naftalis. How I love this man, my teacher my hero, my tzadick. I have not been with him since the night of our wedding reception at our honeymoon in Jerusalem. Our meeting was just like we had never been apart I thank the Almighty for this meeting and I am sure we are going to do a lot together, starting with our Ishmael and Isaac project. The tragic events of the past few days in Paris just remind us of how much work there still is to do.
It is the most beautiful time of the year. A time of light, food, parties, fun and presents. We must not forget how much it means to children. The other day I was in Toronto. There were children all around me. There was snow on the ground and a log fire burning. It was reminiscent of everything you could imagine about Christmas. Despite being in Church one of the parents told her child “If you are not good, Christmas will not happen”. So the little boy no more than 6 said, “What if we are not good won’t Jesus be born”. With me the preacher sitting there the parents did not dare answer.
The fact is that Christmas has one reason only, that Jesus was indeed born. Throughout history from the Jewish tradition there was the profound belief that one-day the Messiah, the anointed one of God would be born. He would be the one who would lead people to their heavenly father God. He would be the one who would change peoples understanding of God forever. He would be the one known as the King of Kings.
Yet he was not born of the right stock, he was born of an unmarried mother who was no more than a refugee. She gave birth to her son in a grotty stable, in a grotty little town just outside of Jerusalem called Bethlehem. Not a very grand start for the person who would change history. From the day he was born history was divided into before him BC or after him AD. Those who follow that refugee child now call themselves Christians.
Christmas is also a time when you assess what has happened over the past year. For me this year has been so hard because I am not the vicar in a leafy Parish in the Hampshire/Surrey boarders where my family live. My parish is Baghdad in Iraq. The nation where the Christians have been dismissed from their hometowns in there hundreds of thousands. They have fled in their masses to the very North of Iraq fleeing the onslaught of the terrorist group known as ISIS. There for weeks my staff team have fed and clothed, provided mattresses and cradles for the thousands and thousands of internally displaced people.
Here in their refugee camp, the Christians with no Christmas like us in the West have placed a refugee tent for Jesus and there in the camp is a tent for another person who was also a poor refugee who had nothing.
This Christmas as we celebrate what we have, let us not forget that we too are celebrating the birth of a refugee who had nothing but gives us everything. As we delight in what we can give to people this Christmas let us not forget what this Christmas is really all about the time when this refugee child comes to all of us as the one who leads us to God and offers us the most wonderful gift possible this Christmas. Christmas is all about relationship with our ultimate creator.
I will never forget the day in Baghdad when we had some visitors. They had come to see what it was really like for Christians in Iraq. They were so surprised by how happy the thousands of people were in our congregation. “How can you be so happy when you are surrounded, suicide bombs, mortar’s rockets and such violence”. One of our young people answered the statement. “You see when you have lost everything, Jesus is all you have got left”.
All you have got left is the love of that refugee child. That to us in the Middle East is all that matters this Christmas. The terrorism has got so bad in Iraq that I have had to leave. So I have moved to the other place where I work Bethlehem. That little town where Jesus first came. Two thousand years after he first came he is still everything to the people, He is still everything to our Christians in Iraq and he can still be everything to us. You see when Christmas is over, when you have had all your presents and food, Jesus is all we have got left.
So Christmas is a time when we should never loose the meaning of this Christ Child who came to us so that by simply trusting in him we will have a life filled with hope and purpose and love. He is still with us 2000 years after he first came. This Christmas let us not forget that he so loves us that we must love him and in response our life will be changed forever.
Wishing you a happy and blessed celebration on the birthday of our Lord.
The Christians in Northern Iraq have set up a refugee tent tent for Jesus in refugee camp for this year. Will you help us to help the Christians in the Middle East this Christmas there tent for Jesus does in fact tell us, THAT WHEN YOU HAVE LOST EVERYTHING JESUS IS ALL YOU HAVE LEFT. You can give to those most in need via http://frrme.org/get-involved/donate/
As we approach Christmas I bring you blessings from Bethlehem and Baghdad. Bethlehem where I am most of my time now because it is deemed too dangerous for me to be in Iraq at the moment and Baghdad that I still see as my home and the place I love more than any other. I may not be there but our team still are working flat out to bring hope to our many thousands of Christians who have been forced from their homes at this time. Every day they are providing food, accommodation, clothing, and disabled aids to those in great need. Last year we could have never dreamt that we would be facing this level of crisis – with our people being hounded from their homes, our people being massacred and having nowhere to go for real safety.
I want to thank you for all the help you gave us at this most terrible of times. With your assistance we have been able to help meet the needs of those who have nothing. The story may be out of the news now but the crisis continues. We are having to provide for the needs of those not just in Iraq but also those who have fled to neighbouring countries. Last week we were in Jordan with some of our desperate people. About to be forced out of their totally derelict homes because they could not pay the rent, no school for their children and their husbands and father having been kidnapped or killed by the terrorists in Iraq. Our job has been to provide them all the help and support they need and we can only do it with your help.
Meanwhile down the road in Bethlehem it may seem peaceful and pleasant for the pilgrims and tourists but there is a very different side to this little town. We have been greatly privileged to form links with the wonderful evangelical Church in Bethlehem led by Naim and Stephen Khoury. The church is so alive with the glory and Spirit of G-d. It has a vibrant children’s and youth ministry and an extensive evangelism program. Whilst the mosques are proclaiming their words from their minarets this church is proclaiming the word of G-d from its loud speakers. 13 times this church has been blown up and had attempts to destroy it, but they will not stop allowing the love of Jesus from Bethlehem to be heard in Bethlehem.
Will you give back to the Middle East something this Christmas as we give thanks for what we have received from there when Christ was born? Everything you give will go to those who need our help this Christmas here in the Middle East where our Lord Yesuah came.
Wishing you a happy and blessed celebration on the birthday of our Lord.
Canon Andrew White
How to help
Regular monthly giving enables families to be fed weekly, medical support and supplies remain available to all in need and vital reconciliation work to continue. We would ask you to prayerfully consider regular giving in the form of a monthly standing order, particularly at this most difficult of times. Standing order forms can be uploaded from the FRRME website www.frrme.org/donate. If you would prefer to speak to a member of the FRRME Team about regular giving, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 01730 267673.
It has been a long hard, difficult and wonderful trip to the US. There have been continual meetings with people who really care about our work and mission. I have continually been asked how people can help and my answer has been continually “Pray for Peace and Pay for Peace”. The highlight of my recent trips has been my visits to the Christian Schools. These visits were obviously not fundraising ventures but for me the highlight was when a little boy came up to me and gave me $1. That dollar is still with me I cannot use it. It is to me the true symbol of the widows might. Other children then came up to me and gave me their one or five dollars. So I have decided to give to the church the same amount of money given to me and the one dollars I will give away at Bethel Church this weekend. It is a sign of God’s goodness and provision to me and us.
I got to Bethel where as usual I had an amazing visit. I told my story in depth and then told people about the young boy in Seattle who gave me the $1. The story was clearly the most amazing story of so many I had to tell. I told how he had given me his $1 to help the needs of his brothers and sisters who had been dispersed and massacred. I told them how after the one dollar other children started bringing me their $1. It was so moving and it was not long before all the students started bringing me their one dollars. In every class the same thing happened when I told the story by the end of my one day in Bethel that $1 had turned into thousands and thousands of dollars. That little boy had no idea what he was doing but he was sure that he did what God told him to do. There at Bethel they took the dollars and got them changed into a cheque to bring relief to the thousands of Christians we were helping. All because of one boy and $1.
Never underestimate how G-d can use the widows might and the boys $1. As I write I am on my way to Nashville Tennessee for the final part of my visit. It is a place I am very much looking forward to visiting and seeing what God is going to do there. I am sure it will be good. I return back to the UK on Friday and next Sunday I am preaching at Corpus Christi College Cambridge. So I will actually have a chance to see my Josiah in situ in Cambridge, how I am so looking forward to seeing him. Early next week I return to Jordan and Israel and later BBC News.
Well the money is now counted and the $1 has raised over $25,000 I just told his teacher and she can’t wait to tell the children tomorrow, she said it is just like the 5 loaves and 2 fishes.
With literally hundreds of Facebook messages on my three pages, I am afraid I have not been able to answer them individually as I like to normally, so I am afraid this message will have to be an answer to them all. Thank you so much for your messages of encouragement and support. I can assure you that they have all been read and all much appreciated. Thank you so much my friends.
The crisis here with ISIS/L continues, but their movement toward Baghdad has been pushed back. At one point yesterday they were said to be within a mile of Baghdad. Now the Intel tells us they are 20 miles away from the Capital. The last few days I have done endless interviews as people try and gain a glimpse of what is happening. Thousands upon thousands of people remain Internally Displaced People (IDP’s) on the Kurdish boarders in the North. Limited food, living in simple plastic tents and having none of their much needed provisions. We are trying to provide as much of what is needed as possible. Dr Sarah is spending most of her time in the North but this week she and I found it impossible to find a seat on the plane to travel to Erbil. We are therefore stuck here and flights out are very restricted. I am in Israel next and my flights there are arranged so I will soon be on my way. Sarah is waiting to see how she will be able to get back to Erbil, what is clear is that it cannot be from Baghdad.
Meanwhile Prime Minister al-Abadi has assured the world that the future of Iraq is not safe or certain, but we continue to be committed to providing help and support to the land and people we love. Meanwhile the terrorism of Baghdad continues. Just after our Sally returned home, there were two major suicide bombs in her hometown of Jadida. Fortunately she was not hurt but only just missed the bombs, which killed over 20 people.
Despite the tragedy all around us we are so aware of the presence a glory of G-d. We had a great joyful event today as I baptised a mother and her four young children. What a joy it was when the 10-year-old boy came up to me after the Baptism and said “I feel all new now I am all different” and he was.
So many people have asked how they can help us. There are only two things we need. First and most importantly, we need prayer that the presence and protection of G-d will remain with us and secondly we need funding to provide the needs of our people. Such help can be provided through our websites www.frrme.org and in the US www.frrmeamerica.org.
Greetings from Baghdad. People are very fearful the nation looks as if it has collapsed. The usual hectic and crazy streets were this morning almost empty. The news from our friends in areas surrounding Baghdad is equally worrying, the Islamic State (ISIS or DAASH as they are known locally) are very close to Baghdad. We do not really know what is happening all we know is that people are very afraid. We know that civilians have been killed in air strikes; we know that there are huge battles with ISIS; and we know that our army is not very efficient.
This morning I was with one of my soldiers who is assigned by the government to protect me. I asked him what he would do if he saw ISIS coming. He told me he would take off his uniform and run. So I asked if he took seriously his role as a soldier to fight and protect his people, he assured me he did not. He told me he just did it because he needed the money.
Meanwhile yesterday at Church I spoke on the subject of why we must love Israel. I posted the following brief posting:
“Why We Must Love Israel. This was the title of my sermon today, quite an interesting title for a sermon in Iraq. The sermon was based on Romans Chapter 11, “do not boast over the root for the root supports you”. The sermon was well received as I have been working on the issue for so long. Because Abraham is so important to us here the issue of the Yehudi and us is taken very seriously. Despite being in Iraq I love the Jews and Arabs, Israelis and Palestinians, and Iraqis and G-d loves them all too.”
I received a barrage of postings from people whether they hated Israel and saw them as anti-Palestinian or they were totally for Israel. What most people failed to understand was that loving Israel was far more than love for a State – it was love for a people. Love for a people that my Lord Jesus was part of and that our salvation came from. Though can we see that we are called to love Jews and Arabs alike but that loving Israel is not an option for those of us who love Yeshuah, we have to. We must not forget the history. We as Christians have got to accept that our theology was responsible for the development of Anti-Semitism. I spent hour’s yesterday just answering questions on this subject. I am not going to answer any more. I have just written a small book on the subject called ‘The Older and Younger Brother”. It can be purchased on our website, www.frrme.org at a cost of £5.
At 2.40 am this morning I had a call from one of the security chiefs at the US Embassy here in Baghdad. Congressman Trent Franks in DC, who was very concerned about my security situation, had contacted them. He in turn had been contacted by one of our US Board members. We were with the congressman just last week, he is a good friend. The issue that was so worrying to the Embassy was that I no longer even have a badge to get into the Green Zone. I have a badge to get into the US and British Embassies but I cannot even get to them without being able to get into the Green Zone. We were able to get in until all the Badges to the Green Zone were replaced 6 months ago. So the Embassy say they will work at getting us the badge today. I really pray that this will happen today.
Added to all these problems my hearing aids got lost when the cleaner was cleaning my room. Without these I can hear very little and my work becomes really difficult. I have managed to order new ones, which my staff who are coming to Israel with me next week can hopefully take with them. I just pray that G-d will help me find the £2700 I need to buy them. No insurance is covered in Iraq so we cannot claim for things lost or stolen here.
The latest news this morning appears to be that the further advance of ISIS towards Baghdad appears to have been halted. How far they are from here varies according to who is providing the information but they appear to be 5-15 miles away and in the last 12 hours have not got closer. So we live in hope. Sorry this update is longer than usual but rather a lot is happening. We seriously need your prayer.