“We believe we must forgive” – breaking bread with Iraqi Christian refugees

“We believe we must forgive.”

So said one of the Christian Iraqi men I met in Jordan last week. Having listened to the tragic and traumatic stories of many Christian refugees there, it is inspiring and moving to hear this talk of forgiveness.

We are now supporting over 1,100 Christian families in Jordan who have been forced to flee Iraq in fear for their lives. They told me how they had left their homes as the forces of so-called Islamic State advanced, how relatives had been kidnapped and murdered and how they had gone from one place to another seeking safety, finally having to leave their own land for the relative peace of Jordan.

Ancient ruins in Amman, the capital of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan

One woman told me of how her father had been kidnapped along with their priest. Both had been murdered. Her father’s body had been left in the street in a nearby town with a sign hung around him saying ‘if you move this body you will be killed’. The murderers didn’t want him to have a Christian burial. Her 17 year old brother had gone in the dead of night to retrieve the body. As she told me this she gently wept. Her husband sat silently with his eyes watering up. Alongside them their two children played with a teddy. We are supporting this young family with food and helping them to pay rent on their tiny and extremely modest flat. Shockingly, in Jordan the Iraqi refugees are not allowed to work, although some do work in the black economy for very meagre wages.

We work with four very different churches in Jordan: Syrian Orthodox, Greek Catholic, Full Gospel Pentecostal, and ‘Nazarene’ evangelical. We provide food and clothing, medical supplies and help with rent payments. We are also providing English lessons and working with others to facilitate trauma counselling.

English lessons in Amman for the Iraqi refugee children

There is so much need and it is growing. Every church is welcoming more refugee families every month! May I implore you to help us in any way you can. We want to help more but can only do so with more funds. As Christmas approaches we want to provide extra special food and some gifts if possible. Each Christmas food parcel for a family costs around £30. We also want to expand one of the churches by renting additional space and establishing a new children’s facility including educational and trauma counselling services. Projected costs of this are around £20,000 in the first year alone and that doesn’t include the back-office support in England. Every donation is appreciated.

Last week in Jordan we distributed food packages to over 500 families 
– two other churches received food vouchers

We will be providing a much longer report on our work in Jordan soon.

Thank you so much for your support whether in prayer, finance or promoting our charity to others. I am available to come and talk to your church about the work we do.Please email the office at office@frrme.org if you would like to discuss this.

To donate please click on this link to our website (there are numerous options for how to donate) or send us a cheque made out to ‘FRRME’ to: FRRME, PO Box 229, Petersfield, Hants, GU32 9DL, United Kingdom

Mike Simpson, CEO FRRME 

16 November 2017

Meet the team at St George’s Clinic, Baghdad

In a country where religious war has taken hold, read about the medical clinic where Christians and Muslims work together to help people of all faiths

The medical team at St George’s Clinic in Baghdad continues to treat people of all faiths despite the recent spate of sectarian bombings. Since the retaking of Mosul in the north of the country by the Iraqi army, the capital has been subjected to frequent attacks by Islamic State. The security situation has been made worse still by the fallout from the Kurdish independence referendum which has seen fighting between Kurdish separatists and Iraqi security forces. Despite this, the Christian and Muslim staff at the clinic continue to work together to provide the best health care possible.

Meet Fatin. She is a Christian and the head receptionist at the clinic. She lives with her parents in a modest home. Along with her brother Fareed, who is a security guard at St George’s Church, she takes care of her elderly parents. Her father was recently diagnosed with cancer and, with your support, we are helping with the cost of his treatment.

This is Sara. She is a Muslim and a pharmacist at the clinic. Her parents died when she was very young and she put her life on hold to support her younger siblings, working multiple jobs to put them through school. Sara works very hard but her salary doesn’t cover everything so we provide her with £115 ($150) a month in rental assistance.

New hope for the persecuted Christians of Iraq

A crucifix embedded in the wall of St George’s Church in Baghdad

As a Christian charity, we are called to help the displaced and the dispossessed regardless of creed. However, as we have repeatedly highlighted in these updates, the aid that Western governments give to the UN does not reach the Christians. This is because Christians in Iraq cannot go to UN camps for fear of being targetted by other groups. Instead, they seek shelter in churches and rely on the charity of fellow Christians in the West.

Thankfully, this is starting to change. Having listened to the concerns of church leaders, the US government recently announced that it would provide direct financial support to persecuted Christians and other minorities via its aid-giving arm, USAID. Sadly, the British government has yet to follow suit. It’s position continues to be “take it up with the UN”. Rest assured we will continue to make representations to decision makers at the highest levels of government in the hope they will change their approach.

London supporters, please join this Procession of Witness

We would like to encourage those supporters who live in (or near) London to join us on this Procession of Witness on Saturday 18th November 2017:

 

Please support our mission

If you are a UK resident, you can make a single or regular donation via our website by clicking here.

American supporters can make a donation via our sister organisation, FRRME America, by clicking here.

Thank you for your support!

The FRRME Team

The ‘Voices of Iraq’ project takes shape in Jordan

October

In 2015, in a meeting room at London’s Heathrow Airport, FRRME staff met with a group of church leaders and Christian NGOs. They had flown in from around the world to discuss the terrible fate of Christians in Iraq and Syria who had found themselves living in a newly-created caliphate where Christianity was punishable by death.

One of the speakers that day was Johnnie Moore, a young American who spoke with eloquence and passion about the plight of Christians. Johnnie is now a member of President Trump’s Evangelical Advisory Board and has this week published a book titled ‘The Martyr’s Oath’ which shares eyewitness accounts from dozens of Christians who have survived persecution.

This focus on testimony is at the heart of our new ‘Voices of Iraq’ project. In the coming weeks we will be surveying the Iraqi Christian refugees in our care in Jordan about their experiences. We want to share their stories with you so that the human face of this humanitarian disaster is not forgotten.

Part of this project will involve a photography competition which we will be inviting the refugees to participate in. There are three categories – ‘My Life’, ‘My Journey’, and ‘My Hope’. Iraqi Christians in Jordan cannot work (this is due to high levels of domestic unemployment) but engaging their creativity in this way will give them purpose. Inertia is one of the biggest challenges they face.

Our ultimate goal is to let the people we are helping tell you their story but also to get different groups talking to each other. One of the barriers to reconciliation is silence, a refusal to speak to “the other”. From Northern Ireland to Rwanda, cessation of hostilities has always followed dialogue. We hope to begin this process very soon.

The generous support of our donors enables us to provide vital supplies of food and other help for Christian refugee families in Jordan. Please consider making a donation today – click on the link below for further details.

Want to promote our mission helping Iraqi Christians and other minorities and enabling reconciliation in the Middle East? Why not become a FRRME Ambassador? The Ambassadors promote our work to others such as in a local church through the use of literature, reports, audio-visual materials and talks given by one of our team. If you are interested please email alex@frrme.org. To support us, please see the giving options below.

Make a donation

If you are a UK resident, you can make a single or regular donation via our website by clicking here.

American supporters can make a donation via our sister organisation, FRRME America, by clicking here.

Thank you for your support!

The FRRME Team

In post-ISIS Iraq the challenges are greater than ever

October

This week the Iraqi army retook Hawija, the last major Iraqi town under ISIS control. This followed the news that the group’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is still alive, although his exact whereabouts are unknown. While ISIS appears to be on the way out, the humanitarian disaster it has created continues. Over 3 million people are still displaced, half of which are children, with 11 million people needing humanitarian assistance.

Delivering fresh food to Debaga IDP camp in Makhmour

This week we delivered fresh food to IDP camps in Iraqi Kurdistan, including Debaga (one of the largest IDP camps in Iraq). The occupants are mainly Sunni Muslims, the largest group victimised by ISIS. The camps also play host to Yazidis, Shabaks and Kaka’i, minority groups which were also targetted. In 2016, the US State Department and the EU designated the persecution of these groups (along with Christians) as “genocide”.

FRRME provides relief supplies to people of all religions in Iraq and in so doing we seek to demonstrate Christian love and compassion in action (Galatians 6 Verse 10). 

Last week, we invited our supporters to complete a short survey about our work. 235 people replied and the results were very interesting. 92% of you believe the ‘advancement of the Christian religion’ is a very important objective (we agree). 63% of you believe we should prioritise our support for Christians (which we do), with a third saying we should help all groups equally. In terms of where we should focus our efforts, 89% of you said Iraq, with Jordan in second place and Israel/Palestine important to nearly half of those who took part. A lot of people commented that they could not really say where we should concentrate our work and trusted us to make wise decisions based on our assessment of needs.

Handing out coupons to Iraqi Christian refugees at 
the Greek Catholic Church in Fuheis, Jordan

In Jordan this week we gave out coupons to Iraqi Christian refugees at the Greek Catholic Church in Fuheis. The coupons can be used in four different supermarkets and newly-arrived families can buy all sorts of essential items with them, from food to electric fan heaters, blankets and pillows. While they are safe from persecution, Iraqi refugees are not permitted to work in Jordan, which means they have no means of income. Through our partnership with four churches, we are helping to feed 700 Iraqi refugee families while their asylum applications to western countries are processed.

The generous support of our donors enables us to provide vital supplies of food and other help for Christian refugee families in Jordan. Please consider making a donation today – click on the link below for further details.

Want to promote our mission helping Iraqi Christians and other minorities and enabling reconciliation in the Middle East? Why not become a FRRME Ambassador? The Ambassadors promote our work to others such as in a local church through the use of literature, reports, audio-visual materials and talks given by one of our team. If you’re interested please email alex@frrme.org. To support us, please see the giving options below.

Make a donation

If you are a UK resident, you can make a single or regular donation via our website by clicking here.

American supporters can make a donation via our sister organisation, FRRME America, by clicking here.

Thank you for your support!

The FRRME Team

A harrowing testimony from Iraq

September

I recently met with Karina and her four beautiful children. They are originally from Qaraqosh (Iraq’s largest Christian town). I’ve met with her several times before but this time, over qahwah and sweets, she shared her harrowing testimony. She gave me permission to share this with you.

When ISIS came to Qaraqosh, Karina was heavily pregnant. She thought they would be slaughtered for being Christian (as others were) but by God’s grace she, her husband and their children escaped to an IDP camp in Erbil. They lived in a cramped unit with eight other families for three tumultuous years, surviving sub-zero temperatures in winter and 50 degree heat in summer.

It should be borne in mind that IDP camps are not always safe places. The camp Karina and her family ended up in offered Tae Kwon Do classes for the children (to give them something to do). Her son, who was 9 years old at the time, loved going to the class. However, the instructor brutally molested him. The family did not find out until he refused to go to class again. To this day, he has terrible nightmares and still suffers physical pain.

At the end of what they could endure, the family borrowed money and flew to Jordan. Living conditions in Jordan are much better (they live in a tiny apartment) but they still face enormous struggles. Karina’s husband toils as a handyman 7 days a week, for which he is paid a meager $10 a day. It is not enough to feed the family.

We are feeding Karina and her family every month. We give them vouchers which they can spend in the local supermarket. Without this, they would starve. Despite the hardship, their faith in Jesus and the kindness of fellow Christians sustains them. They are so very grateful for your support.

We are assisting 700 Iraqi Christian families in Jordan. Please support our mission with a donation – see giving options below. 

Helena Scott

Project Officer in Jordan

Make a donation

If you are a UK resident, you can make a single or regular donation via our website by clicking here.

American supporters can make a donation via our sister organisation, FRRME America, by clicking here.

Alternatively, you can make a donation to our humanitarian appeal by clicking here.

Thank you for your support!

The FRRME Team

Can you spare two minutes?
 
If you can (and you haven’t already done so) please complete our very short survey. We would love to have your input!

Lobbying politicians on the issue of Iraq’s persecuted Christians  

September

For those Christians who currently remain in Iraq life is tough. Most are internally displaced people (IDPs) who have been forced from their homes and are now living in tents, caravans, basements or sharing crowded accommodation with other families. Those from the villages of the Nineveh Plain may have lost everything when Islamic State advanced. Now that the Iraqi army has pushed back the terrorists, it is hoped that families will be able to return, but often it is to homes that are little more than rubble or otherwise have been stripped of all furnishings and other belongings.

We are lobbying governments at home and abroad to take concerted action to address the tragic circumstances of these people. Last week we were at the House of Lords meeting with Lord Alton and Baroness Nicholson, and then a meeting with the Department for International Development. We are pressing for action to provide relief and reconstruction resources directly to the Christians in northern Iraq and to pressure the Iraqi government to provide the necessary security to ensure that families feel safe enough to return to their homes.

Later this month I will be in Brussels to meet with Lars Adaktusson, a prominent MEP from the Swedish Christian Democrats who was part of the recent conference: ‘A Future for Christians in Iraq’. 60 representatives attended this conference including politicians from Iraqi Christian parties, leading Iraqi church bishops and ministers, members of the Kurdish Regional Government, Yazidis, Turkmen, Ka’kai, and NGOs including FRRME (we were a sponsoring partner), along with representatives from the EPP (the largest political group in the European Parliament) and the US State Department.

Following presentations there was a signing of a joint position paper on reconstruction, the right to return, reconciliation, and security. Lars Adaktusson restated the demands of Iraqi Christians for the right to live in their own homes freely and safely with the opportunity to follow their Christian faith as equal citizens in Iraqi society. When I meet with Lars later this month we hope to schedule a visit to Baghdad to meet with senior political and religious leaders there.

Father Emmanuel’s funeral service in Amman

 

I would also like to share some words of condolence at the passing of Father Emmanuel of the Syrian Orthodox Church in Amman. He was a friend and partner of the foundation whose compassion and beneficence was widely known. With our support, he took in many Iraqi Christian refugees who had nowhere else to go. His funeral was attended by hundreds of people including our Project Officer in Jordan, Helena Scott. For those with access to Facebook, footage from the service can be viewed on the Noursat Jordan page here. Needless to say, with your support we will continue working with our church partners in Jordan.

Mike Simpson
CEO

Please make a donation

If you are a UK resident, you can make a single or regular donation via our website by clicking here.

American supporters can make a donation via our sister organisation, FRRME America, by clicking here.

Alternatively, you can make a donation to our humanitarian appeal by clicking here.

Thank you for your support!

Middle East Report interviews our new CEO, Mike Simpson (PART TWO)

September

In this exclusive interview with Middle East Report, FRRME’s new CEO Mike Simpson talks about what we are doing to help Iraq’s displaced Christians – click on the below image to listen to part two of the interview. 

Part one of the interview can be heard here. In the coming weeks and months we will be sharing more stories from the people we are helping in Iraq and Jordan. It is thanks to your continued support that they endure.

Alen

“In Mosul the situation was very bad, especially for the Christians. We were afraid of them and afraid for our lives. It was too dangerous to stay in Iraq.”

Imad

“I was living near Mosul. During the war (2003 invasion), people were being killed according to their identity. I saw my friends in a car near my house get killed.”

 

These radio stations will also feature the interview (click on the logos)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you would like to support our work please make a donation by clicking here.

Thank you!

How your support is helping Iraqi Christian refugees in Jordan 

September

Last week we introduced our new initiative – Voices of Iraq – a project to give displaced Iraqi Christians a voice. Some of these people have made their way to Jordan where, thanks to your continued support, they are slowly rebuilding their shattered lives.

With the money you gave us, we delivered clothing coupons to 510 children from all over Jordan. Buses brought them to the distribution point, the Syrian Orthodox Church in Amman, which is run by our dear friend and partner Father Emmanuel.

Distributing clothing coupons at the Syrian Orthodox Church
 

Our English language class at the Nazarene Church continues to grow – there are now 20 refugees in the class, most of whom fled Baghdad and Qaraqosh. The class recently discussed “Hopes and Dreams”. All of them expressed their desire to leave the Middle East and resettle in the West where they can live in peace with their families.

An Iraqi Christian woman and her son buy vegetables with the food coupon we gave her
 

At the Assemblies of God Church, which is run by Pastor You and his family, we gave out vouchers to 115 refugee families which were used to buy fresh food. We are also continuing our support for a trauma and healing workshop for women who have experienced domestic violence.

A choir singing at the Cultural Arts Festival at the Greek Catholic Church
 

The Greek Catholic Church in Amman recently hosted a Cultural Arts Festival where refugees expressed themselves through art and music. Our support for the church, which includes a monthly stipend for food relief, is received with love and appreciation by the congregation.

Please support our work and make a donation

If you are a UK resident, you can make a single or regular donation via our website by clicking here.

American supporters can make a donation via our sister organisation, FRRME America, by clicking here.

Alternatively, you can make a donation to our humanitarian appeal by clicking here.

Thank you for your support!

The FRRME Team

Voices of Iraq

September

The persecuted Christians of Iraq have not been heard strongly enough in the corridors of government or in the media. With that in mind, here they are, in their own words. If you would like to help them, please support our work and make a donation (giving options at the bottom of this update). N.B. Raed asked that we did not show his face.

Alen

“In Mosul the situation was very bad, especially for the Christians. We were afraid of them and afraid for our lives. It was too dangerous to stay in Iraq.”

 

Ammar

“I was living in Qaraqosh, a town with just Christian people. About 60,000 people lived there. I was an art teacher and I also had a mobile phone shop. In 2014 ISIS attacked Qaraqosh. There were three choices for us – convert to Islam, pay the Jizya (tax for non-Muslims), or be killed. We fled Qaraqosh in just our clothes.”

 

 

 

Imad
 

“I was living near Mosul. During the war (2003 invasion), people were being killed according to their identity. I saw my friends in a car near my house get killed.”

 

Afnan

 

“Living as a Christian in Iraq is very hard, especially for girls. You cannot go out or do anything. They think that it’s okay for Christians to do anything or wear anything we want because they think Christianity is what they see on TV or in the movies, that you can do anything – sleep around, drink alcohol, do drugs, do whatever you want. This is the image of Christianity in the mind of many Muslims.”

 

Michael
 

 

“In Mosul I had a restaurant but they blew it up because I am Christian. After that I went back to Qaraqosh which was a safe place. When ISIS came there in 2014 I left everything behind and went to Jordan.”

 

 

 

 

 

Raed

“My wife and I left the day before ISIS came into the town. My wife was about to give birth so I had to make preparations and go quickly. The hard part for me was leaving my parents and brother behind. I will never hold a gun. I won’t fight for land. The most important thing for me is that my family is safe.”

 

Making a donation

With your support, we provide monthly food, shelter and medical care to 700 Iraqi Christian families in Jordan. If you would like to help us in our mission, please see the giving options below.

If you are a UK resident, you can make a single or regular donation via our website by clicking here.

American supporters can make a donation via our sister organisation, FRRME America, by clicking here.

Alternatively, you can make a donation to our humanitarian appeal by clicking here.

UK residents can also make a donation via text message by following the instructions below:

Thank you for your support,

The FRRME Team

Amid the Baghdad bombings, we deliver food to the Christians

August

Baghdad has been rocked by more sectarian violence this week. On Monday, a massive car bomb ripped through a packed market in the Shiite district of Sadr City. 12 people were killed and 28 wounded. Despite the danger, we are continuing to deliver aid to members of the congregation at St George’s, the only Anglican Church in Iraq.

The above picture is of an Iraqi Christian woman we are helping called Um Masara. She is a widow with three children, one of whom is autistic and also suffers from epilepsy. The four of them live in the Mansour district of Baghdad. With your support, we have been helping Um Masara and her children for four years now, providing them with food packages and medical assistance at our free health clinic at St George’s Church.

This week, we delivered food supplies to Debaga Camp in northern Iraq where approximately 30,000 internally displaced people live in cramped conditions. The food we delivered included cooking oil, rice, tomatoes, potatoes, fresh chicken, lentils, onions, aubergines, fresh bread and qishta (cheese). The people we fed are Sunni Muslims, the largest displaced group in northern Iraq.

While we are working hard to feed the dispossessed, Islamic State fighters are holed-up around the city of Tel Afar 40 miles west of Mosul. Reuters quoted an Iraqi army officer this week who said that breaching the first line of the militants’ defense in the town of Ayadiya was like opening “the gates of hell”. It is a stark and unsettling reminder that the fighting is not over.

If you would like to support our mission, please see the giving options below. Our work is made possible by your generous and continued support.

Making a donation

If you are a UK resident, you can make a single or regular donation via our website by clicking here.

American supporters can make a donation via our sister organisation, FRRME America, by clicking here.

Alternatively, you can make a donation to our humanitarian appeal by clicking here.

UK residents can also make a donation via text message by following the instructions below:

Thank you for your support,

The FRRME Team
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Insights from Sarah Ahmed, Director of Operations
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