At the beginning of our last high-risk mission in Iraq we dedicated a week to assembling the Lion and Lamb Life Packs at one of the IDP Camp warehouses. All of our Life Pack items (the lion and lamb stuffed animal, music box, boo-boo kit, crayons, and coloring book) are packaged separately and have to be added to the drawstring bags by hand in order to deliver to the Iraqi children at each distribution point. This process is tedious and requires a large team to assemble thousands of these Lion and Lamb Life Packs.
We need all the help we can get with these types of operations. Thankfully for us there are plenty of hard working people in Iraq looking for ways to help support their family in the aftermath of ISIS occupation.
In addition to the workers we sourced from within the IDP camp, we also connected with a few Assyrians from an Assyrian IDP Camp that were looking for work and were transported in to assist in our efforts.
Assyrian Christians are an ethnic minority group whose origins lie in the Assyrian Empire, once a major power in the ancient Middle East. 2-4 million Assyrians live near their traditional homeland, which includes Northern Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Iran. In recent years, many have fled to neighboring countries to escape persecution from Sunni and Shiite militias. They have been highly targeted by ISIS and were almost completely eradicated through genocide.
Our experience with the collective group of workers was truly eye-opening. Not only were Muslims and Christians working together for the same common good (to serve the Iraqi children), our ministry was able to also serve these workers who lost everything during the war. As we got to know these Assyrian refugees we found the majority were highly educated and skilled, and came from middle and upper-income families before ISIS occupation.
We often focus only on how the people we’ve met have been traumatized and afflicted by the occupation. We feel blessed to know that the Iraqi people have hope that the lives, jobs, purpose, that they had before the war will be theirs again one day soon. At the end of the week it was incredibly hard to say goodbye to these hardworking people. We are grateful we had the opportunity to play a small role in helping them support their families through the work that we did together.
Chaz, ATP Chaplain