So, it’s come to this! Yasir thought. Fear gripped his heart in that moment, and all he could think about was his family…and getting them to safety. He rushed home without hesitation hoping and praying that his wife and two young children were unharmed.
The sun had faithfully risen that morning, as did Yasir. His job at the welding shop wasn’t making him rich, but he was thankful for the steady work. His employer tasked him with opening the shop each morning, and that day dawned just like any other.
Life in Iraq had not been easy under the ruthless regime of Saddam Hussein, but at least he had kept the competing Muslim factions, particularly the turbulent struggles between the Sunni and Shia, at bay. Yasir’s family and the many other Iraqi Christians enjoyed relative peace, especially in Baghdad, where they lived.
The Iraq War and the death of Saddam changed that. The resulting power vacuum opened the door for Muslim hardliners and fanatics, who at least could agree on their mutual hatred of Christians, to begin widespread and frequently violent persecution. Even moderate Muslims, seeing an opportunity to seize property, united against their Christian neighbors.
Yasir and his family had been nervously eying these ominous developments, hoping they’d somehow be spared, but when he arrived at his shop that morning he knew their time was up. On the door, an angry note read, “Leave this land! Get out, you infidel!” He knew the message was meant for him.
He didn’t have time to spare. Yasir had seen others try to stay, insisting the threats were just meant to intimidate, but he didn’t want to take that chance with his wife, Sarah, and their young children, Malik and Matti.
His fears were confirmed moments after he arrived home when the phone rang. “We saw you reading our note,” the hate-filled voice said, “We know where you live…we can harm your wife and kids if you don’t leave.” Any lingering doubts vanished.
Taking only those possessions they could hastily gather, the young family fled to Irbil, a safer location in the Kurdistan region of Iraq. Irbil, however, had been overrun by both Christians and Muslims fleeing the advancing ISIS forces.
Overcrowded tent centers filled the city, so after a brief stay, Yasir led his family across the border into Jordan, after first making a risky stop in Baghdad to collect important papers he’d left behind earlier in his haste—papers that would be needed to cross into Jordan and, one day, emigrate to America to join his parents and siblings who had also fled the persecution in Iraq.
But Jordan has been a hard place in which to live because the government will not allow foreign refugees to work—and a difficult country to leave. It’s been almost three years since they arrived, and their application for permanent refugee status in a host country seems to have stalled—along with their hope of ever seeing other family members again.
What little savings they brought with them is now gone, and they’re waiting for their third and final interview with the UNHCR, the branch of the UN that helps refugees find new homes. But time is running out for them, and they’re fearful their approval to emigrate will come too late. And with anti-immigrant sentiment running high in most Western nations, they began to wonder if anyone in “Christian” nations knew—or cared about—their plight.
Yasir and his family have not been forgotten by God, however, nor by His heavenly family—those who obey Jesus Christ. In order to keep Yasir’s family, and other families like them, afloat during this stressful waiting period, the Refugee Ministry has been supplying them with food staples, simple heating units for the cold winter, and rent assistance so they are not forced to become homeless.
As of this writing, Yasir and his family continue to wait and dream of a new life beyond Jordan. But they’re thankful for God’s provision and encouraged by their brothers and sisters in Christ around the world who demonstrate their love for them. Thank you for your continued prayers and financial support of the Refugee Ministry of Heaven’s Family.