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Iraq: Bibles for children 'sowing the seeds of the gospel'
05 May 2017
"God told me in a dream that He wanted me to go and work in Bible distribution," says Sajjad*, an Open Doors partner. Your support is enabling Sajjad's dream to come true - Open Doors local partners are planning to distribute 50,000 Bibles, children's Bibles and Bible study books in Iraq in 2017.
Many Christian families who used to live in Iraq's Nineveh Plain lost all their belongings, including Bibles and other Christian books, when they had to flee to escapre the self-proclaimed Islamic State in 2014. "That is why the demand for Bibles and other Christian materials is still high," Sajjad says.
We joined Sajjad on a trip to deliver books to Christian children and youth in northern Iraq, in the Christian village of Mala Barwan. Sajjad explained that about 200 young children from would receive a colouring book with Bible stories, and older children would receive a book with 27 Bible stories. Many of them are not used to reading the Bible themselves, Sajjad says. "The purpose of distributing these books is that children and youth will understand better what God has to tell them in the Bible."
Projects like this, focusing on children, have a special place in his heart. Sajjad says, "What we do with these books is sowing the seeds of the gospel in their lives. My dream is that, within 15 years, the seeds will have grown up and these children will be mature believers and have a living relationship with Christ. We will need a lot of prayer to make that happen."
He stresses that distributing Christian books is only effective when embedded in a solid discipleship strategy. "That is why we also train teachers and Sunday school volunteers, to help them communicate the gospel to young people."
When we arrive in the small village of Mala Barwan, a large group of children, along with the village church leaders and a group of church volunteers, are already waiting.
One of the church leaders, Farid, says, "We really appreciate the books for the children. After they have received them, we will take some time to pray with the children for your organisation. It is great to see that your organisation and the church really work together to educate children on the Word of God.
"We already give them Bible lessons. Because these books offer the same stories but with pictures, the children understand them better. Sunday school is now an audio-visual experience."
Fadia (15) and Dani (13) are two of the teenagers who receive Biblical books. "Through these books I understand who Jesus is," says Fadia. "I know Him better now."
Dani agrees. "These books help me understand what Jesus did on earth before he was crucified," he says. "He helped the children, He healed the sick, and He made the blind see."
Sajjad says, "I dream that in twenty years what we have sowed today by bringing them the gospel will have grown up into a beautiful garden of flowers."
He has one last request: "Please realise that the materials we handed out today will have value in God's kingdom when He gives His blessing. Please pray for God to continue to bless these activities, for His Word to take root in the lives of these children."
*name changed for security reasons
BRING HOPE TO THE MIDDLE EAST
Open Doors has been working with local partners and churches in Iraq for over 20 years to support the church. As well as distributing Bibles and Christian literature, our local partners provide crisis relief, training, microloans for small businesses, and fund repairs to damaged homes.
Open Doors has launched the Hope for the Middle East campaign, mobilising the church around the world to pray, give and speak out for our brothers and sisters in the Middle East.
Here are three ways you can stand with your church family in Iraq:
- Pray. Order a free Pray for ME resource pack to help you lead others in prayer for the church in Iraq and Syria.
- Give. Every £45 provides training to a church leader in the Middle East - living stones, building the church of Christ.
- Speak out. Sign the One Million Voices of Hope petition, asking for equality, dignity and responsibility for Christians and other minorities in the Middle East, which will be presented to the UN Secretary General in December. If you've already signed it, download a copy and ask others to sign it too, or share the link on social media.
- That God will speak through the Bible and other Christian books to those who receive them in Iraq
- That the children who receive these Christian books would grow up to know and love God, and shine His light in the Middle East
- That God would bless the training given to teachers and Sunday school volunteers, and that he would use them to communicate God's love clearly to the young people they work with
- For God to continue to work through Sajjad and other Open Doors partners, and that God would give them strength and wisdom.
More News from Iraq:
- Christians fear referendum vote will bring more violence
- Christian children return home to Karamles
- Church leader optimistic despite upcoming referendum
- Christian woman released after three years in captivity
- Rebuilding Hope in Karamles
Find out more about persecution in Iraq.