Church Bells Ring and Crosses Rise Over Freed Towns

Open Doors Weekly Email

Church bells ring and crosses rise over freed towns

For the first time in over two years, church bells are ringing and crosses are being erected in towns across Iraq’s Nineveh Plain liberated from so-called Islamic State (IS) militants.

In the town of Bartella, returning church leaders found hymn books scattered, pews upturned and graffiti scrawled on the walls. But in an act of defiance and hope, church leaders this week sounded the church bells – announcing the end of the town’s invasion and occupation by IS.

Qaraqosh, Iraq’s largest Christian town, has also been liberated, answering the prayers of many of its displaced inhabitants. In a series of moving pictures, church leader Ammar returns to Qaraqosh and erects a cross atop his church. “Thanks to God… It was a wonderful day to see Qaraqosh,” Ammar says. “Yes, they destroyed and burned houses and churches but of course we will fix it again.”

Church leaders are beginning to return to the village of Karamles too. Thabet takes with him a large cross which he plants in the ground on a hill overlooking the village. “I am so happy I can do this,” he says. “I’m smiling from cheek-to-cheek and I weep tears of joy at the same time. This is the trip I have been praying for for two years now.”

“My dream is to bring back all the Christians to this village,” he adds. “Then we will worship outside on Barbara Hill; we will take communion in the open air. Everybody will see that this is the church; this is the body of Christ; this is Christian land. That is my dream – to give a testimony to the world.”

Please Pray:

  • Praise God for the liberation of towns across Iraq’s Nineveh Plain from IS!
  • For the liberation of Mosul and other towns in the region. Ask God to protect civilians living in warzones and those being held captive by IS
  • For Open Doors workers in the region as they continue to support thousands of believers in the changing situation.
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Future remains uncertain

Before the IS invasion in 2014, this region was home to the largest concentration of Christians and religious minorities left in Iraq. Thousands of displaced families are being cared for by Open Doors’ partners in Kurdistan and our commitment is to support them for as they long as they need us. Open Doors has worked in the region for over 20 years. Thanks to an incredible response to appeals in 2014 and since, our partners are currently supporting 15,000 displaced families with emergency relief, trauma care and long-term rebuilding.

As the battle for Mosul intensifies, the UN and other aid agencies are predicting a humanitarian crisis, with up to one million people expected to flee Mosul itself when the fighting reaches the city. Open Doors partners are monitoring the situation and are planning how they will support displaced people to return to Mosul and the surrounding villages once it is safe for them to do so.

Because the truth is, that even with IS gone, they will be returning to devastated and destroyed communities. With your help we will be with these communities for the long-term. Their churches will need rebuilding, their homes will need to be restored. They have lost their possessions. But they want to return home.

Thank you for your prayers and support. Please continue to pray, give and speak out for Christians in Iraq.

Bring hope to the Middle East

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With many thanks for your prayers,

Lisa

Lisa Pearce
CEO Open Doors UK & Ireland

Please support Open Doors in every way you possibly can. There are so many people still being persecuted for their Christian beliefs in too man countries throughout the world.

With many peaceful and hope-filled blessings

Geoffrey

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Her Family’s Survival Rested On Her Shoulders

It was her fault. That’s what her in-laws said. They were so convinced, they threw her and their three grandsons out of the house. Sani moved to another village and started washing dishes and clothes as a servant. All the while, she carried the blame of her husband’s death and the entire weight of her family’s survival on her shoulders.

November 2015.

Sani had been married only for five years when her husband died from alcohol poisoning. Before she even had time to think about how her life and the lives of her three boys would be without a husband and a father, she found herself homeless, rejected and blamed. She didn’t know how she would care for her family.

Sewing Machine and Widow’s Dignity

Sani was blamed for the death of her husband. As she and her sons were kicked out of the home they had shared with her in-laws, she felt the pain of rejection and abandonment.

Alone and heavy-burdened, she moved to another village to start a new life as a widowed mother. She found work as a house servant, washing dishes and clothes. Somehow she managed to keep her family alive, but the struggle was constant day by day.

As the years passed, Sani sent her two teenage sons to work as labourers simply to keep the family afloat. Because of their grave poverty, her children could not continue in their schooling. Even though she and her sons worked hard, the income they earned still did not build up their financial needs. But help would come, unexpectedly, from one of her neighbours.

Sewing Machine and Widow’s Dignity

Sani was blamed for the death of her husband. As she and her sons were kicked out of the home they had shared with her in-laws, she felt the pain of rejection and abandonment.

Gospel for Asia-supported pastor Jaival lived near Sani. He had been ministering in her community for two years and hosted worship services in three different locations. Because Jaival lived near to Sani, he often spoke to her about the love of Christ.

Sewing Machine and Widow’s Dignity

Sani was encouraged when Pastor Jaival spoke to her about Jesus. When she accepted Christ’s love, she found out Jesus hadn’t rejected her.

Sani had always followed her traditional religion, but gradually, as Pastor Jaival continued to share with her, Sani began to understand the love of Christ. She attended prayer meetings held at Pastor Jaival’s house. She grew to know Jesus personally and chose to accept His free gift of love and acceptance.

Though she found new life in the Lord, Sani and her sons still struggled for daily survival on the meagre earnings they laboured for.

Pastor Jaival, well aware of Sani’s needs, placed her name as a recipient for a Christmas gift distribution. It was through this distribution that Sani received another gift that would change her life: a sewing machine.

The gift was a perfect fit. Sani had previous tailoring experience, so she went right to work stitching clothes. Her income increased, enabling Sani to provide for her family and better manage their needs. Sani could even send her youngest son to school!

Sewing Machine and Widow’s Dignity

Sani was encouraged when Pastor Jaival spoke to her about Jesus. When she accepted Christ’s love, she found out Jesus hadn’t rejected her.

Sewing Machine and Widow’s Dignity

Sani received her new sewing machine with joy. Thanks to people around the world and the love of Christ, Sani is now able to take care of her family and sees her worth in the eyes of Christ.

Sani experienced the love of Christ and His providing hand in a real and tangible way. A simple sewing machine brought her hope and helped show her how much the Lord values her. Her life is just one testimony of hundreds who have received a gift from Gospel for Asia’s Christmas Gift Catalogue.

You can be part of bringing Christmas to those in need of extra love and help. This Christmas, offer hope to a family and show them in a tangible way that Jesus loves them.

Sani received her new sewing machine with joy. Thanks to people around the world and the love of Christ, Sani is now able to take care of her family and sees her worth in the eyes of Christ.

Give a Christmas Gift

With many peaceful blessings

 

Geoffrey

 

Please Pray For Pastor Tomaza in Cuba

Pastor Tomaza Victoria Ayala Zellero and her family were evicted from their home on the 22nd May 2009.
 
She is part of the Apostolic Movement and pastors an Apostolic Church in Central Elia, Las Tunas province, Cuba.
 
They were originally told that the house, which also served as their Church, would be confiscated in July 2008, despite the fact that Tomaza and her husband, Jorge, had lived there for almost 30 years and were the legal owners.
 
When they were evicted the authorities gave them documents prohibiting Tomaza from holding any religious services and the police chief threatened to imprison her for ‘dangerousness’.
 
Finally, the authorities also forcibly closed their carpentry shop, leaving the family homeless and depriving them of an income.
 
Please pray for Tomaza and her family, that God gives them the strength to endure all the hardships from which they are presently suffering.
 
I know that they would welcome all your letters and support to show that many people are thinking of them – and praying for them.
 
Tomaza’s address is:-
 
Pastor Tomaza Victoria Ayala Zellero
Iglesia Apostolica
Cooperative Agricultural Leningrado
Victoria de las Tunas
Cuba
With many peaceful blessings
Geoffrey

Girl Brings Scandal To Village

Hansini steeled herself against the pain of another blow. Soon her body would turn all shades of black and blue, but her attacker wouldn’t be satisfied. He wasn’t simply angry like the others. This man was desperate. At 17 years old, Hansini had shamed the entire village by her actions, but everyone blamed him. Now he was determined to see his reputation restored—no matter the cost.

 

Hansini’s village wasn’t much to look at. The people were poor and most struggled for daily survival.

Still, they had some things to their credit: They were faithful to their traditional deities, and though their lifestyles wouldn’t suggest it, they belonged to highly distinguished clans.

Between working as daily wage labourers and scraping together meals, the people still managed to look down on the lower castes. As if their status weren’t bad enough, many in the lower castes had deserted the traditional religion and begun following Jesus, making them even more disgraceful.

Although most villagers wanted nothing to do with the low caste people, however, there were a few who had given up their reputation to join the Jesus-followers. To her family’s dismay, Hansini was one of them.

From the beginning, Hansini’s parents, Badal and Deepti, strictly opposed her new faith, but their stance did little to calm the rest of the village. The teenager had brought scandal to their doors and something needed to be done.

Old friends became hostile to the family, who received no end of scolding from neighbours and extended relatives.

“You have let your children run so free that you cannot even make them obey you,” the village elders told them.

It didn’t matter that their son and younger daughter still behaved respectably, or that Badal and Deepti worked hard every day. Their own beliefs were of no consequence because Hansini’s actions had overshadowed them all.

The villagers were disgusted when the lower castes began following Jesus and meeting as a fellowship.

One day, Badal couldn’t bear the humiliation any longer. Hammered by the scorn of his neighbours, the man snapped, and he beat Hansini with all the fury and shame he felt. But even as the dark bruises began to show, Hansini stood firm with a determination no one understood.

When her brother and sister begged her to come back to their religion, she just told them more about Jesus and asked them to join her instead.

The neighbours were disgusted, and the family could only wait helplessly for Hansini to relent and clear the family name. After three years passed, though, it seemed she never would.

Despite the village’s protests, Hansini refused to give up her faith in Christ.

One day, Hansini came home with a surprise from her church’s Christmas gift distribution program. It didn’t make sense that the poor, lowly believers could give such a nice gift, but the gleam of the new sewing machine was undeniable. Hansini didn’t waste any time in putting it to use.

She began sewing and selling mosquito nets, and Badal and Deepti watched in amazement as their wayward daughter started earning a significant income. Rather than using it for her personal gain, she took care of her family’s bills.

“Jesus Christ is the giver of all good gifts,” Hansini explained to her parents, “and it is because of the love and grace of Christ that our family is able to overcome all our financial struggles.”

As they looked at what they’d received from the daughter and the God they rejected, Badal and Deepti realized how wrong they had been. Together, they decided that if Jesus could love them while they rejected Him, then they would serve Him no matter what the neighbours said.

And as word spread of Hansini’s success, the neighbours had plenty to say.

The sewing machine Hansini received from her church allowed her to support her whole family.

After three years of hostility, the villagers weren’t about to ignore this new development. With their objective in sight, they closed in on the girl who had defied them, and they asked her one simple question:

Would Hansini teach their children to sew, too?

The young woman happily agreed.

Today, Hansini teaches classes six days a week, borrowing a second sewing machine from a fellow believer, and hopes to share the love of Jesus with her students.

In the meantime, the villagers have stopped their hostile actions and some are even coming to church, eager to learn more about the longsuffering love of Christ. After seeing it clearly demonstrated through Hansini, it’s not so shameful anymore.

For more information about Gospel for Asia please go to:-

http://www.gfauk.org

With many peaceful blessings

Geoffrey

 

 

Their House Was Filled With Nothing

A mysterious illness caused Kalapi’s body to shake uncontrollably. For two years, she had difficulties walking, eating and drinking. Eventually, she struggled even to speak. Her family sought aid but found none—until they heard about a local Christian congregation. Kalapi went to the church, which is led by Gospel for Asia-supported pastor Boro Rai, and received prayer. It was there that she finally found deliverance, thanks to Jesus.
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Pastor Boro began visiting Kalapi and her husband, Mudit, to tell them more about the God who healed her and to encourage them with promises from Scripture. During his visits, Pastor Boro noticed the bareness of their home, which contained only a few household items. But even more haunting was the thin, weak appearance of Kalapi’s children. Kalapi and Mudit could afford to feed them flatbread made of cornmeal, but that was about it. The lack of nutrition left the children vulnerable to frequent illnesses, and Kalapi and Mudit didn’t have the money to buy medicine for them.

Pastor Boro couldn’t ignore the images he had seen of the near-empty home and the frail bodies of the children. Wanting to help, he spoke with his leaders and told them about the family’s need.

Compassion Fills Bare Home with Joy

When Pastor Boro visited Kalapi and Mudit, he noticed the bareness of their home and the thin, weak appearance of their children.

Family Receives Life-Changing Gift

Pastor Boro and his leaders decided to help meet the family’s basic needs by giving Kalapi and Mudit a gift. Pastor Boro told Kalapi the good news that the church was going to help her family, and he invited her to a Christmas gift distribution.

Kalapi arrived on the appointed day. At the event, 20 pairs of goats, 24 cows, 25 water buffalo and several other useful items waited for Kalapi and other struggling families. Each gift, from a pair of tin sheets to a water buffalo, represented a helping hand from the Lord, who wanted these families to thrive.

Compassion Fills Bare Home with Joy

When Pastor Boro visited Kalapi and Mudit, he noticed the bareness of their home and the thin, weak appearance of their children.

Compassion Fills Bare Home with Joy

Pastor Boro told his leaders about his concerns for Kalapi’s family. Then, during a Christmas gift distribution, Kalapi received a cow and a calf!

That day, Kalapi went home with a cow and a calf. With joy in her eyes, she thanked those who had made it possible for her to receive the gift.

Cow Strengthens Children’s Bodies, Fills Woman’s Heart with Faith

Now, because God put it on the church’s heart to give Kalapi a cow and calf, her family is enjoying a stability they desperately needed. The cow provides Kalapi’s children with milk, a source of protein that has helped their bodies grow stronger. In addition, Kalapi and Mudit have been able to use the cow’s dung to fertilize their crops, and when the calf grows up, they plan to use it to plow their fields.

These Christmas gifts not only helped the family’s financial condition, but they also showed Kalapi how much God and His children care for her family. Seeing God’s compassion on her family, Kalapi’s faith grew. She prays to Jesus to meet her family’s needs, trusting in Him to provide.

Pastor Boro told his leaders about his concerns for Kalapi’s family. Then, during a Christmas gift distribution, Kalapi received a cow and a calf!

Compassion Fills Bare Home with Joy

God has used the gift of a cow to sustain Kalapi’s family. Kalapi’s children have grown stronger and healthier by drinking the cow’s milk.

God has used the gift of a cow to sustain Kalapi’s family. Kalapi’s children have grown stronger and healthier by drinking the cow’s milk.

“I thank God who has not only set me free from my sickness, but also blessed us with a cow that provides milk,” Kalapi said. “Now my children are able to eat chapatti [flatbread] with milk. I praise God . . . for helping such families as mine.”

You Can Bless More Families

By providing gifts from Gospel for Asia’s Christmas Gift Catalog, you can help bring stability and hope to families like Kalapi’s as you give them a source of income and sustenance. More importantly, you will be part of a tangible illustration of God’s great love for them.

Give life-sustaining gifts

With many peaceful blessings

Geoffrey

‘The Source You Have Given to Us Is Never Finished’ – Gospel for Asia

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Families all over South Asia didn’t receive perfume or ties last Christmas. Instead, they received gifts that changed their lives.

Nothing Temporary Here
Pranjal had no way of providing medical treatment for his ailing wife, Sukthi. A witch doctor told them she should have surgery to fix her decaying rib, but the cost of the operation was more than Pranjal could afford.

As a day labourer, Pranjal barely made enough to feed his family. In desperation, he went to the local Gospel for Asia-supported church and asked for financial help. But Pranjal received something even better than money. Instead of the church giving him money that could only temporarily fix what would be a prolonged problem, they gave him a cycle rickshaw so he could earn an income, provide for his family and get the medical treatments his wife needed.

'The Source You Have Given to Us Is Never Finished'

Pranjal was given a new cycle rickshaw. Now he can earn enough money to provide for his wife and four children.

The local GFA-supported pastor also began visiting the family and prayed for Sukthi’s healing.

A few months after receiving the gift, Pranjal took his wife to the hospital for a check up. Miraculously, the doctors told them regular medicine could help cure Sukthi’s sickness and no surgery was needed.

Pranjal and his wife knew it was the Lord Jesus working in their lives.

“If I had received financial help then that money would have been gone within a few days,” Pranjal said. “But the source you have given to us is never finished. It still helps us exist. Now I am earning a good amount through the cycle rickshaw by carrying passengers. I am taking my wife also for treatment in my vehicle, and I’m able to buy medicines for my wife. I am happy with the help provided to me by the church.”

New Carpenter in Town
Surviving was tough for Mahir and his family. He was scarcely able to provide for his family’s needs because he wasn’t able to find a job. However, GFA-supported pastors in the area took notice of his great need.

They invited Mahir and his family to attend their Christmas gift distribution program, and to Mahir’s surprise, he was gifted with carpentry tools.

Even though Mahir had no experience or knowledge in carpentry work, he began doing small repair jobs in his village. Slowly, his carpentry skills developed to the point where he was able to build furniture and even houses. Now, through this gift, Mahir is able to earn 1,500-2,000 rupees ($30-$40 US) a month, which is enough for him to take care of his family.

“It is good to have such programs in our region for needy and poor people that will uplift their living standards,” Mahir shared. “May God bless those who provided me with these carpentry tools.”

'The Source You Have Given to Us Is Never Finished'

Pranjal was given a new cycle rickshaw. Now he can earn enough money to provide for his wife and four children.

Satisfying Their Thirst
Shikar and his family were constantly getting sick from the water sources in their village.

“There was hardly a week or month in which we did not have to visit a doctor and spend our hard-earned income on medicine,” Shikar explained. “My family and I were often exposed to waterborne diseases because we had no choice but to use dirty and contaminated water from open wells for cooking and drinking.”

Shikar and his family suffered with stomach problems, jaundice, typhoid and diarrhea. And because necessity compelled them to use ponds, rivers and contaminated well water for bathing, they also suffered from skin infections.

The doctors told them they needed to use a water filter, but Shikar couldn’t afford to buy one. Fortunately, GFA-supported pastors provided for this need by giving Shikar a BioSand water filter from the Gospel for Asia Christmas Gift Catalogue. Now he, his family and even other people in his village don’t have to worry about getting sick.

'The Source You Have Given to Us Is Never Finished'

This BioSand water filter helped keep Shikar and other villagers safe from waterborne diseases.

“Since the time the water filter was installed, no one has suffered from any waterborne diseases, and we are spared from unnecessary medical expenses,” Shikar shared. “Through these BioSand water filters, not only our physical thirst has been quenched, but also our inner thirst for the love of the Lord and for one another was met very strongly.”

With many peaceful blessings

Geoffrey

Tin Sheets Help Teen Go To Church

Sunlight filtered through a hole in the ceiling onto the back of a teenaged boy who had too many chores to do. The boy, Digvastra, longed to be at church, joining the saints for Sunday worship, but his father had given him a long list of chores to complete by sunset.

Digvastra’s father, Hemendu, had decided he could stamp out his son’s new faith by preventing him from going to church.

Tin Sheets Help Teen Go to Church

Hemendu gave his son a long list of chores each Sunday to stop him from going to church, hoping to snuff out the flame of faith growing in Digvastra’s heart.

Son’s New Faith Provokes Father’s Anger—and Eventual Curiosity

When Digvastra had put his trust in Jesus and had started going to the local church meetings, Hemendu became furious. He chided Digvastra, telling him not to go out on Sunday mornings, but Digvastra would sneak out. Then Hemendu decided to start giving Digvastra a long list of chores each Sunday morning to stop his son from attending church. Digvastra, still a teenager, honoured his father by doing as he was told.

Chandira and Yahvi, two Gospel for Asia-supported women missionaries who had shared Christ’s love with Digvastra, befriended Digvastra’s family and had opportunities to tell Hemendu about Jesus. Gradually, Hemendu’s heart grew curious about the new faith, but he was not yet willing to risk the scorn his neighbours and relatives would heap on him for believing in Jesus.

Hemendu gave his son a long list of chores each Sunday to stop him from going to church, hoping to snuff out the flame of faith growing in Digvastra’s heart.

Tin Sheets Help Teen Go to Church

Two women missionaries, Chandira and Yahvi, shared with Hemendu about Christ. He became curious, but he still wasn’t ready to believe in Jesus.

Prayer Answered Through Practical Gift

Digvastra kept praying to God to speak to his father, and Chandira and Yahvi prayed about a way to bless Digvastra’s family and show Christ’s love to them. The two missionaries felt the Lord was leading them to give the family a gift in their next Christmas gift distribution, but there was one problem: They didn’t know what to give them.

Then, one day, Digvastra shared a prayer request with Yahvi and Chandira. He explained that the roof of his family’s house had a hole and needed a major repair. Digvastra knew his family desperately needed financial provision to fix the leaky roof.

Amazed by and grateful for God’s clear direction, Yahvi and Chandira knew what to do. They put in a request to their leaders, and when the day of the Christmas gift distribution came, they were able to give Digvastra some tin roofing sheets!

Two women missionaries, Chandira and Yahvi, shared with Hemendu about Christ. He became curious, but he still wasn’t ready to believe in Jesus.

Tin Sheets Help Teen Go to Church

Digvastra asked Chandira and Yahvi to pray that his family’s roof would get repaired. Soon, the young man received tin roof sheets through the Christmas gift distribution program!

Gift Overwhelms Son and Father Alike

Overcome by God’s love and goodness, Digvastra could find no words to express his gratitude for the gift that his family had desperately needed.

That night, Digvastra told his father, “The Lord has been helping us in so many ways and has not only known our needs but has provided us with our needs. How can you still harden your heart? … The Lord is good to us. He has changed my life.”

“God is good to us, and I know that, but it is hard for me. … I need time,” Hemendu replied.

Even though Hemendu still wasn’t ready to put his trust in Jesus, the gift—a gift that would protect his family from inclement weather for years—impacted him. He was grateful to God for knowing his family’s needs and using the Church to meet those needs. Hemendu’s attitude toward Jesus and His followers completely changed. Instead of opposing his son’s faith, Hemendu became supportive. Digvastra can now spend his Sunday mornings worshipping with the local congregation instead of doing chores.

“I am thankful to you for teaching and showing the right path to my son,” Hemendu told Yahvi and Chandira one day. “I can see that his life is transformed, and I am happy as a father to know that my son has chosen the right thing.”

For more information about Gospel for Asia please go to:-

http://www.gfauk.org/

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With many peaceful blessings

Geoffrey