As thousands of Iraqis in the city of Ramadi are fleeing ISIS right this very moment — we said hard things to the North American church yesterday and we all didn't turn away from what's happening. And we're all standing up to defy ISIS.
You read the following shattering story — and you all got LIT UP ON FIRE WITH REAL PASSION and you're defying ISIS by crushing hopelessness and by refusing to do nothing. You're WAGING LOVE.
We had a goal of $150, 000.
Though ISIS wants to destroy their futures — we aimed to put more than 22,000 fleeing kids back into school in Iraq.
Though ISIS wants to keep women invisible and vulnerable — we aimed to empower dozens of women who had fled to the safe haven with start-up grants for their own business to bring healing to their trauma by giving them real means to hope again.
Though ISIS wants to destroy their futures we aim to keep working with key Iraqi partners for the hope of trafficked and violated Yezidis and Christians.
This is where we were...
This is how you let Jesus rise up in all of you and all together crushed that $150,000 goal and crushed the dark — with nearly
HALF A MILLION DOLLARS
and climbing! ...in only 3 days!
Let's Keep DOING THIS THING!
Because it Literally Means:
- Thousands of Iraqi kids will be back in school this fall
- Hundreds of Iraqi women will healing and hoping and believing with their own businesses.
- Thousands of Iraqi girls will get an education
- Thousands of Iraqi families will know the love of Christ and evil and dark and hopelessness will be crushed because you stood up in Jesus' name and kept crushing it.
ISIS can march on and the world can be scary — we will love anyways.
The world needs people who defy cynical indifference by making a critical difference — and that is all of us together.
That's what you all #togESTHER are doing: Every single one of us can start changing headlines as we start reaching out our hands.
That's what you all #togESTHER are making happen. It's the reason your hands are where they are in this world to give other people in this world a hand.
Because you're #GenEsthers, part of the Esther Generation, who know it in your bones, the chambers of your bravely pounding hearts:
Caring isn't a Christian's sideline hobby. Caring is a Christian's complete career.
We don't numb out or turn away or hope someone else does something. We say NOT ON OUR WATCH. On our watch we will care.
Caring is our job, our point, our purpose and our joy. We're here to care like a boss. And that's what all you people are doing #togESTHER, like Esther, an #EstherGeneration — living the real good news of the Gospel for such a time as now.
THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for making a HALF A MILLION DOLLAR difference and WAGING LOVE and defying ISIS!
Check out the unfathomable story that started a God-fire of passion in all of you.
Dear North American Church,
Go ahead — wave to a nine-year-old kid today.
Sit on the edge of her bed and just watch — just watch your nine-year-old while she sleeps.
Then sit with a 9 year-old-girl on the floor of a shipping container in the middle of northern Iraq and her mother will tell you that girls here don't smile like they used to, they don't laugh here like she remembers.
Except there aren't many nine year olds Yezidi girls here, among these families displaced and fleeing from ISIS.
There are 5 year olds, 7 year olds, but — I looked for them: there are no nine year olds.
Nine-year-old Yezidi and Christian girls can show up in headlines: Impregnated. Held, taken, violated and discarded. Sides round and swollen. Sent back to shame their communities. Pregnant little girls with dolls still in their hands. While we are having out wheaties and reading the day's news.
ISIS sells nine year old girls in slave bazaars.
Click away, turn the other way if you want, but those girls are wild to turn and escape — and they can't. They are categorized. Stripped. And shipped naked. Examined and distributed. Sold and passed around like meat. Livestock.
You can walk into any mall and buy a pair of NIKE running shoes for what they are buying a Christian or Yezidi girl from 1-9 years of age — $172 dollars. And she's yours. For whatever you want, for as long as you want, to make do whatever you want. Sit with that. Yeah, we're all done living in a world where a pair of shoes can last longer, have more worth, be treated with more value, than a fondled, raped and discarded 9 year-old-girl.
The United Nations reports this week that at least one young girl's been "married" over 20 times — and forced at the end of each violation to undergo surgery to "restore" her virginity.
So it could be ripped open and destroyed by the next highest bidder.
We're all done with keeping up with the Kardashians or whatever flash of skin is being flaunted on red carpets — when there are little girls being devoured on bare concrete floors. We will keep company with Jesus. We will be the ones who do something about the things that breaks His heart.
I sit with 4 Yezidi mothers in a shipping container where they sleep.
They need someone to have enough courage to not turn away. That is us.
Sozan holds a swaddled baby in her lap on the floor.
No furniture. No beds. No running water in a shipping container.
They relieve themselves in the muddy grass out behind.
She leans forward and whispers to me:
Our life was normal before. Our children went to school. Our families had homes, we worked hard.
ISIS takes everything. ISIS destroys our homes. We lose everything.
Now we've had to run here for our lives. We don't speak the language here. We have nothing here.
Our children can't go to school here. Our children wake with nightmares here — about everything that happened there.
Her little boy, Mohammadin, carefully slides the red pen out of my hand.... like it might be a key.
Sozan, Marwa, Leyla, these mothers sitting here — not one of these mothers were ever allowed to go to school — because they were girls.
Not one of them can read. Not one can write. Not one of them can even read or sign any letters of their name. They have been made invisible. Made invisible prey.
The UN states the wretchedly obvious this past week: "In the shadow of ISIS, women and girls are at risk and under assault at every point of their lives."
At every corner... at every turn... at every sharp and invisible point... waiting for somebody — some Body — to stand up and say: Not on our watch!
"We could hear the gun fights with ISIS all around us for hours." Sozan uses her hands to tell me this. She pulls one of the children on the floor closer to her.
"If we didn't go — we will die. We are very afraid we will really die. We run in the middle of the night with our children up Sinjar Mountain to try to escape ISIS."
Sozan straightens the scarf around her head. She points to her sister, Leyla, sitting on the ground beside me. "ISIS shot her husband. Then they shot her son."
I search Leyla's eyes, her face deeply lined... longing.
"...and killed them."
Who has neat categories for this? I have no categories for this. I have no categories for what to say when you're looking into the eyes of a woman whose man she loved was blown apart by a bullet from ISIS. I can only find Leyla's hand.
She laces her fingers through mine and holds on like we're sisters and we don't let go and we won't let go and we won't turn away. Her daughter, Sarah, her one eye clouded with this murky grey cancerous tumour curls on her lap, clings.
She's not yet 9-years-old.
You can read what the UN reports: Sexual violence is...
not only used to satisfy promises made to ISIS fighters, but also as a means to humiliate dissenters, draw intelligence information, and dismantle traditional familial and social norms so that the structure of a new caliphate could be formed.
Not on our watch! Not on our watch will we let blinders be stapled to our hearts. Not on our watch will we say we can do nothing.
Not on our watch will we let women be made invisible so they can be made useable inventory.
Mawra. She sits near the door of the shipping container. On edge. Her head scarf's wrapped close. Guarded. I catch her searching my face. But when my eyes try to comfort hers, hers only brim-pool.
In the two hours that I sit with these 4 women and their children, Mawra only whispers one sentence:
ISIS comes into our house and I see them, right in our house, I see them shoot my father — and every single one of my three brothers.
Marwa eyes haunt... anguished. She covers them with her hands.
But we're not about to cover up their stories with trite and flimsy distractions.
We won't act like what's happening with ISIS isn't the story of our times, isn't the story that defies geography, isn't the story that threatens the cradle of civilization.
How do you just sit on the floor of a shipping container and just let these women carry this kind of terror alone? How do you turn away and go back to your neat little life of wheaties and news reels and how does the church not stand up and howl?