Awaiting Open Doors

Relief workers to Iraq halted from entering Baghdad
( [email protected] ) Sep 06, 2003 12:00 AM EDT

AMMAN, Jordan – Due to escalating threats in Iraq against foreign relief workers, volunteers to Baghdad were halted from entering the city until at least mid-September. Among the workers included nineteen southern Baptists who entered Amman, Jordan, Sept. 3 with plans of entering Baghdad Sept. 5 with the nearly 50,000 70-pound boxes of food gathered by Southern Baptist churches across the country this past spring.

Shipped in containers to various ports in the Middle East, the boxes were to have been housed in Baghdad until relief workers could deliver them to the most needy. However, the boxes will now be delivered to the homes of many of the 500,000 Iraqis who fled their country as refugees in Jordan.

In an interview with the Florida Baptist Witness in Jordan, one of the relief workers said she is convinced God's hand has been on the trip all along, despite the last-minute changes and the long plane ride to Jordan.

Because she affirms the sovereignty of God, "I don't have any trouble with this," she said. "My one thought is to realize God's in charge of all of this and as long as I let Him order my steps I am where He wants me to be. I am going to 'Plan B.'"

Her struggle, she said, “was never a question of, 'Will I go?' or 'Should I go?'

"I don't only love the Iraqis living in Baghdad," she said. "If there is a way I can be God with skin on, then I'm not going to tell God, 'Only in this box.'"

The worker said her love for the Iraqi people began when she learned of the plight of the Kurds during the first Persian Gulf war.

"God just gave me a love for them and I have been praying for them all along," she said. "God wants worshipers in every place and if He has to start out with us worshiping God among those people, He'll get honor from that."

A relief worker coordinating the event said in an interview Sept. 3 in Jordan that the volunteers -- from Florida, Texas, Virginia and North Carolina -- might have an opportunity to begin delivering food and supplies to the Iraqi refugees as early as Sept. 6, but details and logistics about the part this initial team will play continue to unfold.

The worker also reported that the food boxes scheduled for delivery in Jordan, unlike those in Iraq, would include an Arabic translation of the Book of Proverbs. The worker said there are fewer restrictions in Jordan than in the rest of the Arab world.

The team is scheduled for orientation Sept. 4 and was planning to hold a prayer vigil for the Iraqi people Sept. 5 in a location overlooking Iraq. Because Friday is considered a Holy Day in this mostly Muslim country, relief work will be delayed until Sept. 6.