I saw it on the headlines. Killings, beheadings, innocent children being chopped mercilessly to pieces. My heart reeled with the evilness of it all and I lay there that night staring into the dark thinking of our anger and shock at the barbaric behavior of the ISIS. I was angry at the world for not stepping in and ending it.
And then Jesus asked me what I was doing. As I tossed and turned with those scenes of blood in my mind, I vowed never to forget and prayed to become a part of healing and comfort for those women and children. And He sent me there.
It is a beautiful land, but one of extremes. Extreme heat and extreme cold. Extreme hate and extreme love. A land bursting with wild flowers, beautiful children, hot sun, and always another tiny glass of sugary chai. A land of beautiful sunrises shining on rocky mountain peaks and broad-shouldered, Kurdish soldiers marching home from the front lines. Plains full of sheep, turbaned shepherds, and beautiful green fields of wild daisies and poppies. A land of graceful women smiling from under their hijabs while they spin bread dough perfectly in their hands and bake it in hot outdoor ovens. But most predominantly a land with the feel of hate and war.
You hear it in the distant boom of the bombs and you feel it in hazy
atmosphere as you scan the horizon. Dark eyes look into mine, straight to
my soul. Through them I read their nightmares. Their father and uncle are dead, and in their nightmares they watch blood run and heads roll. They hear the screams all over again, and with all their hearts they hate the men that kill and bombed their beautiful homes in Sinjar.
I saw it on the headlines, but now I see it in the eyes of little Azad, who owns the cutest pair of elf ears I ever saw. He looks as me with that childlike look of confusion and says, “My father, BOOM, boom, BOOM,” as he shoots off his imaginary machine gun. Then he holds his gun to his head and falls over, playing dead. He is so small, so beautiful, so scarred.
A small band around his neck tells me he is Yazidi. They came from beautiful Mt. Sinjar, where the mountains rose in the distance and the sun shone down on thousands of beautiful children laughing and playing in fields of wildflowers. But the rumble of the distant war came closer and closer until one day, the screaming and running started.
Alia is a beautiful girl of 15. Her thick black hair fell around a perfect face as she spoke to me in broken English. “I can’t go to school anymore, and my father forbids me to even leave the house.”
“Men bad,” she told me with her enormous eyes looking straight into mine. “Bad men, bad love.”
Bad men. Bad love. That is all Alia ever knew, and she will be betrothed to a man that will treat her just the same. She will bend to every wish and give birth to his babies and wear the same look of despair her mother wears.
Unless we step in to override evil; overcome evil with good; lay down our rights and step over the line and recklessly abandon ourselves. Could it be that our Captain is recruiting us and asking only what is reasonable? Our temporal lives for their everlasting life?
How can we stare such an ocean of evil in the face and go back to our lethargy? How can we not fight for a dam of love and hope to burst forth and the oil of joy to be spilled into every crack of their shattered, beautiful, hearts?
This fall, Katie Lapp took the six- week training at the Missions Training Center. She plans to serve with a mission group in India. During the summer, Katie was in the war-torn middle-east with a non-profit organization, assisting refugees impacted by the brutalities of war. She kindly gave permission to use these excerpts from her journal, and hopes to raise awareness of the huge needs in this part of the world.