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OSMTH-I on Christian Crisis in Syria, Egypt with refugee needs in Jordon, Turkey & Iraq
Iraq Update 5 - May 27, 2013

Dear Friends,

Bassam Ishak and I are currently in Istanbul preparing to fly to Mardin and also Midyat where there are thousands of Syriac Christian refugees from the Al-Hassake region of Syria. They have fled there because of the growing violence against Christians in the region from either Al-Nusra or armed gangs with no particular cause. There is also a titanic struggle going on in Al-Hassake region between PYD ( the Syrian branch of the PKK under Mr. Ocalan in Turkey and also allied with the Assad regime) and the Kurdish Democratic Party ( the party of Barzani based in Erbil the heart of Kurdistan in Iraq). The closure of the border was part of a much larger geopolitical struggle going on in the region. We simply arrived in the middle of this larger context that led to our inability to move forward with our original plan to conduct a Faith-Based Reconciliation workshop for 30 Kurdish and Syriac Christian leaders as a means of forging a new social contract between them to create a future together in the Al-Hassake region of eastern Syria.

One of the important features of Faith-Based Diplomacy is to have a part of the team whose sole function is to engage in prayer & fasting as a tangible means of looking to God for direction and results. This time I called on the very best in asking The Reverend Chandermani & Kanta Khanna from Jammu & Kashmir in India to join us on the team. Chander and Kanta both feel a deep calling to the work of Faith-Based Reconciliation and are humble and powerful people of prayer. During one of the truly lowest and most challenging points in our time in Erbil the team spent over two hours in prayer together and toward the end Chander was given this spiritual revelation from the Holy Spirit from Proverbs 3:5

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding"

He was then given the following revelation:

"The Lord showed me that how the spirit of discouragement and depression was taking hold on the team. Apparently it seems that the evil one is unhappy over the affairs of the team working for reconciliation among the Kurdish and Syriac Christians at Erbil in Iraq. Though the hurdle was created by the evil one by closing the entry of the delegates at the border of Syria/Iraq. The team found that the workshop which was the supreme agenda died before it's birth. Hence the evil one found itself victorious. The fact is God has his own plan and used the closure of the border as a sign to indicate that the strategy of the team needed to conform to the strategy of the Almighty.  The Lord wanted us to see the importance of penetrating the idea of Faith-Based Reconciliation among the top brass of the government. Silently, the Lord was using the event of the closure of the border for his strategy to bring some ripples of His message. He even used the so-called friends of the team to bring the death of the workshop because this time He wanted to involve the high ups of the Kurdish people for His plan. Therefore, silently and indirectly He was conveying the importance of Faith-Based Reconciliation in the form of doubts, intentions and it's impacts. The ball has already been rolled into the court of state government. So the meeting of the team in the premises of the Erbil International Hotel has entered into great success for the future role of ICRD. In fact, ICRD has made such a great impact on all the powers in high places that they are conducting analysis of the real intention of ICRD. So instead of just bringing impact among the delegates, it is affecting the government officials who in the coming days will find that ICRD is indispensable for bringing peace and stability to the community. Therefore, the ICRD team is not sitting without doing anything, but rather it has made an impact and to some extent disturbed the officials and the government which as a response closed the the entry of the delegates. So this is a unique strategy that the Lord is doing. "

So, dear friends, continue to pray for us. At it's heart Faith-Based Reconciliation seeks to bring the visibility of God into the strategic political realm. One of the eight core values of Faith-Based Reconciliation is acknowledgment of the authority of God in our lives and in political community. Ironically, God used the Arab Spring and the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt to bring God, faith and His sovereignty over the affairs of nations to the front and center of world politics. For people of faith we should look at the alarming events of today and realize that God is creating a scenario of desperation amongst world leaders about solving these intractable conflicts between enemies so that they will be led to the point of expressing what one Assistant Secretary of State said to Doug Johnston and me after hearing a report on ICRD's activities in Kashmir " well nothing else has worked in Kashmir. We might as well give faith a chance. "

Pray that the leaders of the Middle East will be brought to this point. Then enemies can sit down together in a context of changed hearts and constructive joint problem solving. I cannot help but believe that this is what Jesus intended when he told us to love our enemies.


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