A Scotland-based mission to the suffering church, Steadfast Global, has been instrumental in arranging the Dohuk Summit, a meeting of church leaders in Northern Iraq.
For the first time, leaders from the evangelical church joined with Orthodox denominations in late June, with the primary purpose of seeking a lasting solution for the migration of Christians out of the region.
The delegates acknowledged the unprecedented nature of the crisis with the chairman of the summit, Naseem Sadik, summing up the general feeling of Christians in Northern Iraq. He stated, ‘Christians, whether displaced or from this region, at least have the right to dream about having a family, a home, a job, a vehicle, medical care, employment prospects, and, most importantly, to live freely among other religions’.
Steadfast Global’s work in Iraqi Kurdistan commenced within weeks of the fall of Mosul to Daesh (Islamic State) in 2014. The flood of refugees into the area was almost without precedent and UNHCR camps were quickly erected to cope with the influx.
However, Steadfast’s distinct call was to assist the Christian community that had sought refuge across a number of Christian villages in and around Dohuk, rather than going to the camps. To date they have made four trips to the area, both to help and evaluate ongoing efforts.
Working with their in-country partners, Zalal Life Society, they continue to send funds to provide food, clothing, shelter, medicines and fuel. They have also helped meet sanitation needs by providing much needed shower and toilet units in the villages.
They continue to facilitate regular medical clinics for the refugees and are now seeking volunteer doctors, nurses and medics to join them on trips which last around one week. The next visit is planned for early October.
Steadfast Global is also seeking to provide sustainable incomes to those Christians determined to stay. To this end, the teams have launched a micro-finance initiative which aims to provide interest-free loans to Christians to help create a future free of dependency.
Along with many others, Steadfast Global believe every effort should be made to maintain a Christian witness in Northern Iraq. The meeting, which took place in Dohuk on 29-30 June, is the first step towards making this happen. It created a new council, consisting of representatives of all the local denominations and traditions, as well as active and trusted non-governmental organisations and political leaders.
Rev. Malcolm MacLeod, director of Steadfast Global, spoke of a pilot project to build 100 new homes for the Christians who have lost everything as a consequence of the invasion by Daesh.
‘As an international team, Steadfast Global and their partners are also looking for significant investment from the West to create employment opportunities. It’s an enormous task, but one which is by no means impossible in the Lord’s hands’ (contact [email protected] or www.steadfastglobal.com).