A Christian relief organization working on the frontlines in Iraq recently revealed how the Gospel is impacting the thousands of Syrian and Iraqi refugees terrorized by the Islamic State and how Christians within the U.S. can help.
Nashville, TN based Christian Disaster Response organization Crisis Response International (CRI) has been on the ground in Iraq for 9 months, working tirelessly to meet the spiritual, emotional, and physical needs of the numerous refugees.
Recently, the team recently purchased $75,000 worth of medical supplies and has set up medical clinics throughout the city of Erbil which are staffed with volunteer doctors and other medical personnel. CRI has also rented buildings in which refugees are able to stay free of charge.
"There are 1.6 million displaced people in Iraq right now, and there are no places for people to sleep," said CRI director Sean Malone.
"People are sleeping in streets, sleeping in churches, sleeping unfinished buildings in Erbil. But churches are overwhelmed, resources are not getting to where they need to be."
"Our team is renting unfinished buildings, fixing shelters, make deliveries of medicine and food and water. Conditions there are really rough and extreme," he continued.
But more importantly, the CRI team shares the Gospel with refugees, most recently acquiring 100 Bible audio players that will allow up to 200 people to listen to the Bible at once.
"We now have the ability to transmit the Bible via Bluetooth technology in Arabic and Kurdish to any cell phone or electronic device," said Malone.
"For those who do not have an electronic device or cannot read, we have acquired 100 Bible audio players that will allow up to 200 people to listen to the Bible at once along with hundreds of pre-loaded mini SD cards for distribution."
Malone says a deep hunger for the Bible is evident in both Christian and Muslim refugees, as they "devour" Bibles the team brings into the camp.
"The amazing thing is the hunger of the Muslim people--they see that Islam doesn't work, they see the extremism, and they have such a desperation and hunger. Muslims come running to Christ; we come to the camps with Bibles and they devour them-- it's an all out riot to get the Word of God. They're hungry people, they're hungry for the word of God," he said.
Churches around the world can best help CRI further their ministry by praying for those displaced in Iraq and the mission teams that work to minister to them, by donating to the cause, and by going .
"Prayer is the Biblical mandate and the example we find in the Bible; the first response to crisis is prayer. We can go to sleep at night, but it doesn't all go away, we need to keep it in front of people even though its drifting away from the news. There are 200,000 persecuted brothers and sisters in Iraq that are suffering. That should be a primary mandate: we are to take care of church to take care of our brothers and sisters," said Malone.
"One of our biggest needs right now are trained responders to meet the massive need," he continued.
"Refugees encouraged when people come and help and share the Word with them-- these people are lost and struck without a shepherd. We need people to come and walk with them and show that people care."
CRI will will be hosting a number of upcoming training opportunities and rapid deployment options in Nashville, TN, Madison, OH and Tallahassee, Florida starting in September. Attendance at any of the trainings will qualify responders to go to Iraq including attendance at any one week of the eleven week school in Nashville starting in September.