Our Weekly Update this week is the story of Azad and his family. Now a refugee in Jordan, his voice is one of many ‘Voices of Iraq’. Their voices speak to us all of hope; the hope of these beautiful, precious people. And hope of what difference our work together is making – bringing help and healing where the need is greatest.

Azad met FRRME through our work in Jordan at the Olive Tree Centre. We’ve been able to give him this voice through the tireless work of connecting, facilitating and building relationships done by Helena, our Jordan Country Director, our ‘Love Ambassador’ to Jordan.

Azad (centre right) and his family, taken recently in Jordan

Azad’s Story

Azad, 48, and Yvonne, have three children. They are now in Madaba, Jordan but hail from Qaraqosh on the Nineveh Plain. They were there in 2014 when ISIS started. Back in 2000, Azad had worked as a wooden template designer, designing templates for use in the construction industry. He describes life back then as ‘stable’, but work was fluctuating and he had to change industry; selling the wood he had and finding other work. Then ISIS came.

“When ISIS entered our area, my family and I left the house in the evening” he tells Helena “I took my widowed sister with me. She had four children. All ten of us together in just one car.” 

The congestion was so bad on the road to Erbil, the main city in the area, that the journey which usually took just an hour took over twelve hours to complete. Azad explains:

“A miracle happened to us. The car we used had only 30 litres of petrol left in the tank. However, the car did not turn off the road for 12 hours continuously, and despite this the petrol did not run out in the car. I thank the Lord for having safely arrived in Erbil, my family, and my sister.”

After a while they went to Sulaymaniyah Governorate, where they stayed for about a year and a half and returned to Erbil. There they received support from the pastor of a local registered church. 

“I got to know Christ and accepted Him as my personal Saviour.” Azad says.

The toppled bell tower at the Church of the Immaculate Conception, Qaraqosh

To give you an idea of what was happening in Iraq at this time, the FRRME team were able to visit the largest church in the area which was desecrated by ISIS. See for yourself the destruction ISIS caused. Azad recalls:

“The situation was very difficult, both economically and morally. We left Iraq on 25th June 2017 and we came to Madaba in Jordan.”

They stayed in accommodation provided by the pastor of the local evangelical church. This time coincided with the invasion of their hometown by ISIS. They sheltered in Madaba, Jordan, as they had done throughout; sharing just one room between all five of them.

“Despite all the conditions of bad housing, the Lord did not forget us, as we did not pay the rent in all these areas where we lived. We have certainly faced difficulties in Jordan, but all the difficulties are lessened when the Lord comes and answers our prayers.”

“He has never forgotten us. His grace has never stopped in our lives because we are children of the Lord. Thanks be to the Lord for everything.”

Azad in the newly-planted garden at the Olive Tree Centre in Madaba, Jordan

Our Response

You may not have heard a story like Azad’s before. Perhaps, to you, it is unfamiliar. For many refugees we work with in Jordan it is reality. But with your help we are helping to restore dignity and self-respect to hundreds of people like Azad. 

Every unique, precious story is vital for us to hear, value and respond to. Azad and his family are finding fresh purpose and hope at the Olive Tree Centre. Their family benefit from what you do and how generous so many of you are in giving to this work. We thank you again. Thank you for helping people like Azad.