Middle East

Christmas Inside Red Zones (Celebrating Jesus In Dangerous Places)

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Are you getting excited? There is always a special buzz this time of year as our neighborhoods and shopping malls once again boldly display their holiday decorations. For believers in Jesus’ supernatural invasion into our world, Christmas is a reason to sing our joy from the roof tops. 

But what if Christmas decorations and songs targeted us for those set on ending our lives? Hard to imagine, right? Yet there are places in the world where those threats are a reality. These are the areas where religious extremism is growing against Christianity. These are the “Red Zones.” 

For believers living in Red Zones, Christmas will look very different. Most will find it difficult to celebrate with their families and their underground churches that are in very real danger. But maybe there is a way we can help change their story. Let me explain…

PAKISTAN: Pakistan proclaims religious freedom for Christians, but the underground reality is much different. Ministries have been firebombed, pastors have been brutally beaten in the streets, and missionaries are hunted by Muslim extremists. 

Despite all they face, Pastor Ollie and Nadia are two on-site partners in Pakistan who are pushing back the onslaught against their brothers and sisters in Christ. Ollie has worked diligently to plant the first known churches for Pakistan’s most unreached people group, while Nadia has established secret safe house gatherings for underground believers along the border of Afghanistan. These are areas populated with radical jihadists, requiring special care for discipleship and evangelism outreaches.

Around the time we are meeting openly in our congregations for Christmas Eve services, the underground Pakistani church will also gather. In small groups they will huddle around an iPad screen or Skype signal via cell phone, tools you as supporters helped purchase. From a remote location, Nadia can lead them in some hymns about Jesus’ birth and then walk them through the Christmas story. It will not be an extravagant celebration, but it will bring the much needed hope that our Savior is known for.

NORTH AFRICA: Alpha Relief supports a special training and restoration center in North Africa for missionaries and church planters. Most of these brave students have suffered for their faith in Christ but are now committed to going back into Red Zones to reach their persecutors with the Gospel. Amazingly, some students are even former African-Islamic extremists who persecuted believers. After radical encounters with Jesus, they too want to bring the same freedom to their families.

Ezekiel graduated from the school and is now supported by your gifts as a church planter in a North African Red Zone where more than 70% of the population follow Islam. He leads a small gathering of former Muslim believers, all of whom he led to Jesus. Recently, the Lord moved Ezekiel to take a huge risk and speak openly about his faith with a respected Islamic teacher. After days of gently sharing the truth of the Gospel, the teacher finally admitted that he was convinced Jesus was in fact Lord. 

Ezekiel conveyed this to us: “Now, I am waiting for the day of his final decision. I believe that in his heart he is already a follower of the Messiah. He is afraid of the community to declare it. I need prayer support that God would change his life. Although he knows that our talk does not expose him as a Christian, still he is afraid that he may be stoned to death.” As Christmas day dawns in this North African Red Zone, there is a very real chance that this teacher will be joining Ezekiel’s small church in celebrating the birth of his new Savior.

Friends, these amazing Christmas stories are possible because of your prayers and support. The celebration of Jesus’ birth in Red Zones looks much different than our own and is much more dangerous than we can possibility understand. Even so, every person in Christ’s family is connected by this miraculous hope: Jesus entered the world and rescued us!

Would you prayerfully consider continuing that rescue story for many others who desperately need the freedom Jesus offers? Heroes like Ollie, Nadia, Ezekiel, and the churches they serve, need us to come alongside them. Your support this Christmas can ensure their mission continues to thrive, as well as the mission of many others in Red Zones all around the world. On behalf of our family around the world; Merry Christmas, and thank you for ensuring hope!

 

Vanishing Christians (A Shocking Revelation Inside Syria)

Gabriel’s journey had taken its toll emotionally. The brave missionary had been through ten checkpoints to reach the outskirts of the Syrian capital, Damascus. Each guard who asked to see his credentials could have been an ISIS militant in disguise, capable of stealing his precious cargo, or worse, taking his life. Although he had reached his desired destination, the bombs and gunfire in the distance reminded him that his mission was far from over.

Like many missionaries in the Middle East, Gabriel had done everything in his power to provide aid and the Gospel message to the millions of Syrian refugees fleeing civil war and ISIS terrorism. But as he participated in outreaches to refugee camps near the Syrian border, a glaring mystery began to present itself. Christians were nowhere to be found. It was as if they had simply vanished. 

Five years ago, before the war in Syria began, over 10% of the country’s population of 26 million identified themselves as Christ followers. That's over 2.6 million Christians. Gabriel had yet to meet a single one. “So where did they all go?" he began asking himself.

Using his contact network, Gabriel was allowed access inside Syria to explore the war-torn area. What he found was shocking. Many followers of Jesus had fled their homes for safer regions outside of Damascus. When asked why they had not attempted to leave the country with other refugees, they gave an interesting explanation. The refugee camps in bordering countries are controlled by Muslims. As a minority group, believers are surrounded by the Islamic faith, a religion dead set on preventing Christians from freely worshiping.  

So although ISIS presses in on every side, many Syrian Christians decided to band together and stay. On his first trip inside, Gabriel identified an area filled with over 1,000 impoverished families, most of whom had left all they owned as they fled their homes for safety. They found shelter in small rooms, cramming up to 10 people in a single tiny living space. Food and other essential resources were scarce and some of the displaced families even resorted to searching through the trash for their next meal.

During that first fateful trip, a mission of hope was born for Gabriel. Risking the continual dangers of being in a war zone, our brave partner now makes the journey inside Syria each month to offer life-sustaining food, essential living supplies, discipleship, and the message that the church around the world remembers their plight.

Recently, Gabriel sent an update from his latest mission where he met Victor and Asil. This precious elderly couple was captured by ISIS before they could escape their city. Victor was tortured three different times in an attempt to make him recant his faith in Jesus. Asil was beaten so badly that she lost most of her mobility and was forced to remain in bed. Miraculously, the two were spared from death but were thrown out of their home without any of their possessions. With the last of their strength they made the long journey to Damascus where they hoped to find safety. 

Gabriel's timely arrival provided much-needed aid in the midst of overwhelming sorrow and poverty. His visit also awakened something all but forgotten by Victor and Asil ... hope!

What Can We Do?

Resources are very limited for Gabriel and he needs our help in providing support for the families he visits each month. This is an invitation to be a part of one of the greatest rescue stories of our time. 

$25 provides a week of emergency food aid for a Christian family. 

$100 helps pay rent to shelter a family left homeless by persecution.

$1,000 purchases forty survival packs for families who’ve lost everything.

Would you prayerfully consider giving toward this incredible outreach? In a country that threatens to be overthrown by darkness, we can ensure the Syrian persecuted church remains a growing light.

 

The Church Refuge (Hope for families fleeing ISIS)

As militants stormed their small Syrian city, Bahira and her family did the only thing they could...flee. Finding refuge outside of Damascus, the hurting family took up shelter in an unfinished building with a simple roof over their heads. There were no walls, no electricity, and no water. It was a shack by all definition, but at least for the time begin, they were safe from ISIS.

Bahira's husband, Kareef, grew sick and was unable to look for work to support his family. She did all she could, but jobs for hurting refugees were scarce with the influx of so many displaced people. Many days, her children (ages 5, 8, and 15) were forced to beg on the streets to pay for food. If poverty weren't threat enough, winter arrived strongly in the region. 

But all was not lost. Bahira learned of a church nearby that was helping refugees. Pastor Sami is a partner with Alpha Relief doing everything in his power to offer hope to hurting Christian families, as well as Muslim families in desperate need of the love of Christ.  

Because of your support, this family, and many others, now receive monthly food aid. In gratitude, Bahira comes to the church faithfully and offers to help wherever she might be needed. Risking a great deal, she recently told the pastor, "You are better than my own Muslim people, for you stood by us in our hour of need." (This is said often by war refugees in Syria because Muslims are taught from childhood that Christians are their enemies. They are amazed that their enemies are so kind to them.)

What an incredible opportunity to show the beauty and light of Jesus Christ! Although hundreds of families near Sami’s church have endured incredible pain and suffering at the hands of ISIS, they have not been forgotten. The LORD is an ever present help in their time of trouble. Bahira knows this first hand.

Thank you for joining Jesus’ rescue story in the lives of these precious people!!

Ready to get involved? You will find some great opportunities below.

 

The Syrian Refugee Camp Miracle (An Unlikely Underground Church Movement)

Elias had no reason to have hope. His family is among the thousands who fled from the Syrian civil war to a border country. Before escaping their home city, the family had been trapped in a war zone, cut off from supplies, forced to eat leaves, twigs, and grass to survive. Elias had to endure the pain of watching his oldest son killed in front of him by bomb shrapnel. Though they are now far from ISIS’s continued devastation inside Syria, the family still must endure life in a refugee camp where food, medicine, and other critical resources are severely limited.

With all this stacked against him, Elias does have hope. So where could it possibly come from?

Abram and Siri are friends of Alpha Relief who answered God’s call to be underground missionaries inside the refugee camp to which Elias fled.  Elias’s entire family was overwhelmed when the missionary couple came to their tent offering food and other relief aid. Although sharing Jesus is forbidden in the camp, and severely punished if discovered, Elias listened intently as Abram and Siri spoke about Christ. The missionary couple prayed for Elias’s youngest son Joram who had been diagnosed with leukemia in Syria, and committed to bring the boy to a local doctor. This unprecedented act of kindness, in an environment where professional medical care is almost non-existent, began to open the family’s hearts. What happened next would truly transform them.

On their way to an appointment with the doctor, Elias told Abram that, although it was against everything Islam had taught, he believed the missionary’s prayers to Jesus on behalf of Joram had been answered (Matthew 21:22). In the doctor’s office, the group listened overjoyed as their beliefs were confirmed. The test results were negative. The cancer was gone. Elias now knew the truth. Jesus was the Savior and He had miraculously healed his son.

Shortly after the miracle, Elias’s entire family gave their lives to the Lord. They were the first-fruits of a secret movement, even now spreading through the refugee camp. The risk of persecution still exists, but our Heavenly Father continues to open doors through relief aid and medical care, offering Abram and Siri access to a seemingly countless number of Muslim refugees who are hungry and thirsty for the Truth. Joram’s story of miraculous healing continues to draw those in need of hope who live in Elias’s community and the family is now working alongside Abram and Siri as underground small group planters in the refugee camp. There truly is reason to celebrate.

Friends, would you join us in continuing to pray and support Elias, Abram, and Siri? Pray that many Muslim refugees around these brave underground church planters see the love we as fellow Christians are offering. Pray it prepares them for their own miracles, drawing them out of darkness into the marvelous light of Jesus. 

Ready to join the story? Offer hope through one of our Urgent Needs below.

Leaving All Behind (A Story of Escape From Pakistan)

Have you seen the latest news reports covering the terrorist bombings in Lahore, Pakistan? A splinter group of the Taliban took responsibility for killing over 70 people, claiming it was a direct attack on Christians. Most of the victims were women and children. 

It's horrifying, but persecution of believers in Pakistan is not a new occurrence. The light of the Gospel has been spreading in the region and it appears the Devil is desperately trying to fight back as he quickly loses ground. 

The good news is that there is incredible hope for those standing strong in their faith. This month we want to share the story of one Pakistani family who endured severe persecution, escaped, and through your help have finally found refuge.
 

ESCAPE FROM PAKISTAN
Solomon clung tightly to his father as the family hurriedly gathered the few possessions they could carry before running from the home he had grown up in. The little boy watched his house grow smaller in the distance and wondered if he’d ever set foot inside again. He ached at having to leave everything behind, but also knew that something terrible would come if they stayed.

Solomon’s family had been forced to flee their community in Pakistan after leaving Islam to follow Jesus. At seven years old, he saw firsthand the repercussions of the new faith as the family was threatened with severe persecution by angry Muslims. Through the help of Alpha Relief friends, his parents, alongside his uncle and aunt, managed to escape Pakistan and seek refuge in a supported African safe house. 

As an Alpha Relief hero, you stepped in to ensure hope for these hurting believers. You helped provide Solomon’s family basic living needs and even language lessons so they might survive and thrive in their new homeland. There was even more reason to rejoice recently as we were notified of the birth of Solomon’s first cousin. 

The family is incredibly grateful for the body of Christ around the world that came to their rescue. Keep them in your prayers as they continue their journey. Already Solomon’s father, as a missionary, is reaching out to local African Muslims with the love of Christ. 

“Please Don’t Forget Us”: A Message From Inside Syria

It appears the Syrian crisis is becoming old news. Friends, there are some things we as the body of Christ can’t afford to forget.

Seven million people, displaced by war and ISIS terrorists, remain trapped inside Syria. An overwhelming number of these are followers of Jesus. Those who have fled to safer zones outside of Damascus are forced to camp in small rented rooms or makeshift shelters. Some even resort to searching through the trash for their next meal.

As nearby Alpha Relief partners began making contact with persecuted believers trapped inside Syria, a common theme emerged: “We feel as though we’ve been forgotten by the outside church.”

You see, in the height of the crisis the world set its attention on Syrians who had escaped, sending aid to refugee camps in open European countries. These initiatives are incredibly important but someone needs to ensure those trapped inside Syria aren’t overlooked.

Gabriel is an on-site Alpha Relief partner who has made it his mission to bring hope to displaced Christians remaining in Syria. He has been given special access to an area outside Damascus where a network of local pastors are desperately trying to aid over 1,000 families near their churches. Risking the continual dangers of being in a war zone, Gabriel makes the journey from a border country each month to offer food, essential living resources, and the message that the church around the world remembers their plight.

Just this morning, Gabriel sent an update from his latest mission inside Syria. He spent time with Maath, a 53 year old man who had almost completely given up hope. With tears streaming down his face, Maath told how his entire family had fled their homes when their city was attacked. They later learned that all their possessions had been stolen and their homes destroyed. To make matters worse, his two sons were taken by the Syrian army to fight in the war against ISIS. The hurting father had spiraled into depression, losing weight and finally his strength. 

Gabriel’s visit awakened something in Maath. As Gabriel sat near his bedside, holding his hand and praying over him, Maath suddenly felt a glimmer of hope. He begged his visitor to return again.

What Can We Do?

Gabriel’s next trip takes place just a few days before Easter. This time his mission will focus on a network of 23 local Syrian pastors who every day minister to families like Maath’s. These hurting heroes of the faith are giving all they can while facing the same poverty and persecution. If they lose hope, many under their care may also fall.

Gabriel needs our help in raising $23,000 ($1,000 for each pastor) to support an Easter gift of food, basic living resources, and the most urgent needs of the pastors' churches. This is an invitation to be a part of one of the greatest rescue stories of our time. Would you prayerfully consider giving toward this Easter outreach? Together we can ensure that the Syrian persecuted church knows they are not forgotten.

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The bell on the front door of Olie’s bookshop chimed and a man entered out of the hot Pakistani sun. Something about the look in his eyes immediately made the store owner nervous. In a single sweeping gesture, the man threw open his jacket revealing a bomb strapped to his chest. “I’m here to take your life for your belief in Jesus and selling books that lead others to follow Him." 

Frozen at the sight of the bomb, Olie could think of only one reply. He asked the bomber to read a framed scripture passage from I Corinthians hanging on the wall.  

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth …

After reading the passage, the bomber quietly stepped back, closed his jacket, and hurried out of the shop. That would not be the last time Olie encountered the would be bomber. A few days later he returned. This time he told Olie that he had met Jesus the day he came to destroy the store and asked for a copy of the Bible. He said he wanted to become a Christian, but needed help to escape from those who had sent him to destroy the store only days before.

Recently, some of our staff had an amazing opportunity to meet in secret with pastors from Pakistan. They listened wide-eyed to Olie’s story of facing death for his faith. Pakistan may be a very dangerous place for a believer but, as our team learned from the pastors they met, God is breaking through the darkness to redeem even the most evil men to Himself.

What can we do?

Although Olie’s story has a happy ending, other pastors have experienced the horrific results of persecution. Shaid has been on the front lines of Pakistani evangelism for many years. Using the internet and a local TV station, he has been sharing the Gospel message with those around his city who find his broadcast and watch in secret. Many Muslims have forsaken their dark faith in exchange for the light of Jesus as they listened to Shaid's messages. 

Last December, Muslim extremists found Shaid’s broadcasting location and firebombed it, burning everything to the ground. He has been left with nothing, and those he discipled over the airwaves are left without anyone to teach them about their new faith.

Shaid needs our help with $50,000 to rebuild his ministry. It’s expensive, but with the rebuilding will come some amazing opportunities. A new secure broadcasting location has been found, which can better protect the underground evangelist and his team. New technology will allow him to send his programing to millions in Pakistan and three border countries hostile to the Gospel, where secret followers of Christ desperately need discipleship.

Want to get involved today? Click on the Urgent Need below. May millions more in Pakistan hear and believe!

Home- How You Can Provide Hope to Syrian Refugees

I've had a single word in my thoughts this morning, "Home"... 

But it's not what you think. The usual warm fuzzy feelings that accompany my desire for home during the Christmas season have been replaced with a heaviness. It doesn't take much to trigger this sadness of the heart either. All I have to do is turn on the TV or open a news website. The world is hurting over a little country named Syria, a place many used to call home.

I've been overwhelmed with stories of families from Syria who have been forced to flee civil war, and more recently, persecution from ISIS terrorism. The world has not seen this type of refugee crisis since World War II. Over four million Syrians are registered with the UN as refugees. Another seven million have been categorized as IDPs or "internally displaced people," forced to leave their communities for remote parts of the country not yet under ISIS control. 

Nearly half of Syria's entire population no longer has a place to call home. 

Among them are our brothers and sisters in Christ, struggling to make sense of God's plan for their lives in the midst of this nightmare. Did you know that before the war erupted, an estimated 1.8 million Christians lived in Syria? The enemy is doing his best to eradicate those who remain and ensure that those who have fled sink in despair. 

But is there anything we can do for our family in Christ?

I know I'm not alone in my burden for those displaced and homeless on the front lines. Many of you are hurting too. Facebook and other social media outlets are abuzz with strong opinions on whether or not America should open its borders, many expressing a desire to welcome refugees, while others stand opposed to the potential threats.  

For now, the decision of homeland security rests far above the heads of most of us reading this letter. So the question remains..."What can we do right now?"

Last year, I was asking myself that same question. My wife and I were gathering with some local believers when our pastor paused in his message and asked us to pray with him over the ISIS genocide and the thousands of Christians facing horrific persecution. I found myself looking at the hundreds of bowed heads around me thinking, 

"I work for a persecuted Christian ministry. If anyone in this room should be doing something, it's me! If this burden is from You, Lord, then I need You to open the doors wide."

Open the doors He has! It's amazing what a single prayer to join God's rescue story can activate. Through what can only be described as divine connections, long-time friends have surfaced in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and even deep inside Syria. The refugee crisis may have only just now reached the ears of the Western world, but these brave men and women have been offering aid and hope on the front-lines to displaced Syrian families for years.

I tell this story because I want you to recognize the unique opportunity we currently have in front of us. Most of our on-site partners operate covertly to avoid persecution. Their tactics allow them to go places other large organizations can't reach. But the down side is their stories are never told on a large scale. Resources remain sparse. 

You can help change that!

Below are just two of our brave partners who have graciously invited us to share their work:

Paul has given his life to serve families who have sought refuge near the border of Syria. He and his small team find Christians who are isolated and provide food, living resources, and medical support. Though they risk great persecution and even prison, Paul's team cultivates small home church gatherings among the refugees, which focus on drawing Muslims to Jesus. Many have already given their lives to Christ.

Sami is a local pastor deep inside Syria who has taken up the call to aid and minister to more than 100 trapped Syrian families seeking refuge near his church. Every week, Sami provides aid parcels as well as hosts a worship service, tangible examples of Jesus's love and provision. Christians are finding hope, but many Muslims are also coming to the services and believing the Gospel message, proof that no darkness is as strong as the light of Christ.

We don't have to wait for refugees to show up on our shores. We can start helping our church family right now, right where they are, right where aid is needed most. Maybe you have prayed the same prayer I lifted up; "Lord, open the right doors so I can be involved."  I hope this serves as an answer to those appeals. 

The timing is urgent...the eight church plants Paul oversees are filled with those needing medical care and food.

The opportunity is unique...Sami is just one of 30 pastors inside Syria, their stories untold, the needs of desperate Christian families unmet. 

The mission is underground...equipping these brave front-line partners covertly attacks the enemy right at his stronghold.

Need some additional encouragement to join the story? Well, a generous donor has offered a matching gift challenge up to $24,000 for those who want to get involved. That means every dollar you give this Christmas will be automatically doubled until we've reached the full amount.

Ready to live dangerously? Ask the Lord to "open the doors." 
Ready to get involved today?...

The world may use the word "crisis," but I also believe what we are witnessing is an invitation.  Friends, God is inviting us to provide food, clothing, medicine, discipleship, and best of all, a community of believers for persecuted Syrian families. Our friends on the ground are ready and waiting for the resources you can provide. 


Until the enemy is defeated, our display of Jesus' love may be the only thing many can call "home." This Christmas, let's show our Syrian family in Christ just how big "home" can be!

Terror in Paris (A Different Response)

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It happened again. Hundreds lost their lives over the weekend from horrific terrorist violence. Paris mourns in the aftermath of the cruelty, so many robbed of loved ones. Beirut, Lebanon, was targeted just a day after the Paris attack, leaving more casualties. 

Our hearts have been heavy for those left sifting through the ashes. Prayers for peace and healing rang out all across the world.  

Now, if we are honest, the mourning has turned to anger. And for good reason. We demand justice for those responsible. We demand a death sentence for all the death caused. I confess that there was a part of me that cheered at the photos of the French air force departing to strike back at ISIS strongholds. 

But is this the most effective method of ending the enemy's reign of terror? Should our hearts posture include a different response?

The book of Acts reveals an interesting war tactic employed by Jesus after his resurrection. Saul was one of the greatest persecutors of early believers in Christ. But during one of his campaigns to destroy the church, Saul had a life changing encounter with Jesus on a road leading to Damascus (Syria). Saul's name was changed to Paul who then became one of the greatest missionaries of all time (Acts 9).

Jesus could have killed Saul on that road, ending a wave of terror for the church. Instead, Jesus changed the root, and the fruit of Paul's life grew the church in ways we still experience today.

Can this happen again? What if there was a way to change the roots of ISIS?

My friend Thomas has an interesting answer. Thomas operates a very special safe house in Africa that is turning modern day Sauls into Pauls. Guests at the safe house are former Muslim radicals, Middle Easterners who have had incredible conversions in Jesus. Like Saul, many of those at Thomas's safe house were forced to flee the very persecution they authored when their communities turned on them.

At the safe house, these former persecutors first receive the counseling and restoration they so desperately need to cleanse their past. The greatest part comes next as most of the guests then begin to receive training so they might return to the very areas where their former evil lives were manifested. But they don't go to kill. Instead, they seek to infiltrate the dark strongholds and offer the same transformation through Jesus that was offered to them.

Join the Movement:

Most of you know that Alpha Relief has been on the front-lines meeting the attack of ISIS head on with rescue and relief initiatives. Its also time you were aware of this much more covert assault on the enemy, one that disarms his forces and transforms the very people he controls into the greatest heroes for the Kingdom of Light. 

Thomas, his safe house team, and many other undercover missionaries still need your support. There are many more persecutor Sauls on their own roads to Damascus. It's time we changed their story.

Family Ties: Rescuing Our Own in Iraq

You can watch our latest update in video format here:

Last week the war came closer than expected. Right here in Colorado, my wife and I were introduced to an incredible Christian woman who sought refuge in the States years ago from Al Qaeda terrorists. Then, just last year, the rest of her family in Iraq had to flee ISIS’s brutal terrorism. I saw the distress in her eyes as she told us the conditions her family now lives under. But what I saw most was her sacrificial heart. She sends all the resources she can to offer them hope. This is a woman who is desperate to see her family rescued.

I have to ask myself, do I share this same desperate passion? How would I respond to the crisis if it were my relatives suffering?

Jesus, may we fight for your bride like we would fight for our own loved ones, because in you they are family!

I know many of you have the deep burden I’m talking about. I’ve seen your sacrificial gifts and read your heartfelt prayers. It’s an honor for me to be in battle next to you. This month I want to share a story straight from the frontlines in Iraq. I hope it will give you a glimpse of the families you help rescue every day.

 Lydia’s Story:

Uneasiness spread over Lydia as she walked her narrow street in Northern Iraq. Lately the neighborhood had been full of anxious adults. The local fighters, called the   Peshmerga, had suddenly withdrawn from the combat lines just outside the city,   retreating from an enemy they called ISIS. Now that the fighters were gone, many of   her neighbors talked of leaving.

Lydia called out to her brother Titus standing at the end of the block. His gaze had shifted to something around the corner, which she couldn’t see. A sudden wave of fear washed over her as she watched her brother’s eyes widen in an expression somewhere between shock and horror.

Lydia felt more than heard the first mortar explosion. But as the second and third shells slammed into the street’s storefronts, her head suddenly rang out in pain. She covered her ears in a desperate attempt to silence the horrible scene before her. All around her the buildings began raining down dust and debris. Neighbors suddenly appeared, running from door to door looking for loved ones. Lydia whirled around, frantic to find her own family, and froze at the sight before her. There on the far side of the street lay her brother, motionless and covered in dust.

Another mortar exploded to her right, throwing her violently from her feet as shards of shrapnel penetrated her legs and side. The last thing she remembered before her world went black was the sight of her father scooping her up and running for cover. In the protection of his strong arms, she let the foggy darkness envelop her.

But Lydia’s story was far from over…

Alpha Relief supports local Christians who found Lydia‘s family last year in a makeshift refugee shelter. Her father told of their narrow escape after the Peshmerga fighters retreated to safer strongholds. ISIS had quickly overtaken the defenseless city, firing mortars ahead of their arrival. Alongside many other families, Lydia’s had fled with nothing more then the clothes on their backs. They had arrived homeless, hungry, and grieving over the deaths in their family. Although Lydia sustained serious injuries from the blast, she was able to receive the medical attention she needed. Her family was moved to better living arrangements and offered life-sustaining aid. Though they have experienced a heavy loss, the family now has hope.

Call to Respond:

Thousands of families just like Lydia’s are still frantically trying to put their lives back together after ISIS attacks. Through local pastors and missionaries, Alpha Relief now has access to hurting believers in Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and other secret Middle Eastern locations. These are amazing open doors, but we need desperately passionate supporters like you to continue uplifting the cause of our extended family.

We set a goal of $100,000 toward Rescue and Relief at the beginning of the summer. We have already made a good sized dent in that figure, but still have a long way to go. If the Lord is leading you, would you consider continuing the fight to ensure our persecuted family is provided hope?