Free Church minister, Rev. Malcolm MacLeod, currently serves as the director of Steadfast Global, a Scottish mission organisation serving persecuted Christians. Malcolm shares some insight into the experiences of the local Iraqi church and their current situation.
Scottish mission to the Suffering Church, Steadfast Global, should have had a team in Northern Iraq this week to conduct medical clinics and also a week of trauma care training for local volunteers working with severely traumatised victims of ISIS. Unfortunately, their plans were curtailed by the ban imposed on international flights into the Kurdistan region by the government of Iraq. This embargo was one of a number of punitive measures against the Kurdish community in the wake of their 25 September independence referendum.
Ironically, while ISIS has more or less been pushed out of Iraq a new threat has arisen in the form of Iranian-backed Iraqi militias who are fighting alongside the Iraqi army. In their quest to restore the pre-ISIS border with the autonomous Kurdistan Region violent skirmishes have broken out and as a consequence, thousands more have been displaced with a new wave of humanity seeking refuge in Kurdistan.
Earlier this week, shelling of the predominantly Christian villages of Telskuf and Batnaya by the Iranian backed militias left around 850 families fleeing to the town of al-Qosh where they have sought refuge with the Christian community there. Steadfast Global has responded to this need immediately by making £4,000 available to provide water, food and shelter to those affected.
It is virtually impossible for those of us here in Scotland, or for that matter, anywhere else in the 'free west', to begin to imagine what it must be like for these families to have survived ISIS and return to their battle-scarred homes to try and start again only to have a new threat appear on their doorsteps within a matter of weeks!
The director of Steadfast Global's Kurdish partner agency reports that the believers from the Nineveh Plain are battle-weary, frightened and nervous over what might happen next. There is now a very real possibility that many of those last Christians will now decide that "enough is enough" and try and leave the region altogether. Their departure would be a monumental disaster and one can only pray that God will be very real to them and that they might know his crystal clear guidance.
Rev. Malcolm MacLeod of Steadfast Global, who has made six trips into the region said that from a humanitarian perspective, he fears that the relief effort has gone full circle, leaving their mission and other care-giving organisations, back where they were three years ago. During the first wave of terror from ISIS Steadfast appealed for help to provide blankets, food and shelter. They have been providing support to refugees since then and today, the same appeal goes out once more. The same enemy is at work once again on the Nineveh Plain, just wearing different insignia.
Steadfast Global is in a position to facilitate assistance rapidly and they are calling for urgent prayer and action on behalf of the beleaguered Christians in Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan who feel abandoned and forgotten.
For more information or to make a donation, please visit www.steadfastglobal.org.