By now, most people in the West are aware of ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) and the destruction that has been caused by this regime.
We know that ISIS has caused much pain and suffering for hundreds of thousands of people in Iraq and Syria, yet it is hard to understand just how much damage has been done and what so many people are experiencing when we are so far removed from the situation.
Many women have suffered in a variety of ways, all while they earnestly try to care for their families and meet their children’s needs. In Iraq, hundreds of thousands of families have been displaced due to violence by ISIS. Insaf Safou, an Iraqi-Canadian woman, has recognized this and felt a call from God to bring comfort and hope. In March 2015, Insaf traveled back to her homeland seeking to meet the needs of these women who so often focus on their families before themselves.
World Renew has partnered with Insaf Safou to organize psycho-spiritual conferences for these women who have suffered such trauma in Iraq (read the first story here).
These conferences minister to displaced women who have been living in poor conditions and have witnessed conflict and suffering within their families and all throughout their country. Three conferences were held (the first in Erbil, and the second and third in Duhok) where a total of five hundred women heard a message of hope and love during a time of pain and chaos.
Although the stories we hear in the news focus mainly on ISIS members and their actions, it is important to also remember the innocent civilians and the ways in which their personal lives have been affected. Providing for practical needs is certainly necessary, but providing spiritual nourishment and encouragement is also vital and can be a tremendous blessing.
The needs of displaced women, for example, are often overlooked when we consider this conflict, so Insaf’s desire was to bless them and show them God’s heart and deep love for them. She wanted them to feel special and valued, as a reflection of how Christ sees them.
At the conference in Erbil, the women were given the gift of a nice shirt or purse with a matching scarf, along with accessories, make-up, and hygiene products. In Duhok, the needs of the women were a little different, and so the attendees were given a tracksuit and a set of perfume and hygiene items. Some of these items were brought from Canada, while clothes and purses were purchased locally.
While these gifts may seem superficial, they were given as a reminder to the women of how God desires to care for their needs. When fleeing, many of the women had to leave everything they owned behind, so they were very grateful for these simple luxuries.
Attendees of the conferences included Evangelical, Catholic and Orthodox women, and even some women of Yazidi and Muslim backgrounds . The women shared a nice meal together and listened to a theological speaker who shared with them about living with pain and fear, as well as blessings and curses. These are subjects that they women can relate to very personally.
When asked about the effectiveness of the conferences, Insaf shared an incredible story about a young woman living in Erbil. Born and raised in Baghdad in a Muslim family, she had married a Muslim man and had a son who is now eight years old. Unfortunately, they have since divorced, and the son chose to live with his father, so she has been living alone with nobody to care for her. This ministry was very significant for her, and it is through meeting Insaf and attending the conference that this young woman came to know the Lord. Insaf has since connected her with a Bible teacher and a Church, where the woman has been seeking discipleship and spiritual growth.
The conferences were extremely successful, and the women have expressed a desire for even more. In fact, opportunities for further women’s conferences to be held in Autumn have arisen out of these past three. Insaf hopes to host them in Erbil, Duhok, Nahla, and Turkey, and is planning to have women speak as well, as an opportunity for them to take leadership and use their giftings.
Please pray for these women and their families, for health and safety, and that they would find complete healing in their spirit. As Insaf expressed, “The only One who can give them healing is Jesus. He is their rock and shelter as they face an unknown future.”
Please also pray for Insaf Safou, for safety and minimal issues when traveling to Iraq, and to be able to minister to these women and share the love and peace of God during these unsettling times.