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Iraq: hope amidst the rubble for returning refugees

Refugees returning to towns and cities devastated by ISIS are getting practical and spiritual help to rebuild their lives.

As thousands of refugees are returning to war-torn Iraq, they are finding their homes devastated by ISIS.

When they walk through the doors of where they once lived, their floors are strewn with broken glass and family photos, walls are burned black and full of holes with dust everywhere. Then, in the middle of an ash heap are the charred remains of their Bibles.

With nowhere to go, many are living in burned out houses. They might have a mattress in one room, and that’s all they have to live.

One refugee said: “The first shock came when we ran away from ISIS. But the biggest shock was when I came back home and found it like this. It was the worst thing I have ever seen.”

But in the midst of the chaos and despair, Leading The Way is helping to rebuild lives both physically and spiritually in these areas torn apart by ISIS.

Through the ministry’s Help The Persecuted field teams positioned inside Iraq, Syria, Jordan, and other key areas, they are planting churches, hosting spiritual retreats, and providing vital practical aid.

Leading The Way’s Founder and President Dr Michael Youssef explains what people are encountering as they return to the city of Bartella, Iraq, which was under the grip of ISIS:

“After a lengthy occupation, liberation has finally arrived with the defeat of ISIS in the region. Life is slowly coming back to the city, but as refugees make the journey home, they are returning to rubble. ISIS knew very well how to steal, kill, and destroy – and they have left most of the city uninhabitable.”
However, one of the ministry’s field team members explains how they have now been able to plant a church in this city:
“After an Iraqi refugee named Wahid* received practical help from us, he made his home available to be used as a church. During the first service, despite having no electricity and intense temperatures, 160 people came. When prayer was offered for anyone in distress, the entire congregation stood up in response.
“When we put our hands on them for prayers, I felt the pain of the suffering they had been through.
“This is just one of two houses in two cities that have been given by Help The Persecuted recipients. These homes will be used as churches in cities where all the churches have been destroyed, allowing the Gospel to go forth. These are house churches. It’s like the book of Acts again. We are living it again.”

Leading The Way is helping many more people like Wahid both spiritually and practically as they seek to start their lives over again.

Dr Youssef concluded: “What ISIS meant for evil, God has used for good. Many of these refugees came to faith through our broadcasts and field teams during the crisis. Others received practical support through the ministry of Help The Persecuted. Now, they desperately need the encouragement, hope, and restoration that is found only in the Gospel.”

To find out more on this story watch this video: Beauty For Ashes: Behind the Scenes In Iraq.

For more on Leading The Way to go

* name has been changed for security reasons

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