Brothers and Sisters, Pray For Us (1 Thessalonians 5.25) Ros' Blog
In Baghdad a mother in her sixties looks after her three adult sons, all of whom have poorly controlled epilepsy and learning disabilities. As a Christian in Iraq, her position is precarious. The added burden of the care of her sons is unimaginable. St George’s Church, Baghdad, is able to offer them medical care at home, without which they certainly would not cope. Staff from the clinic based at the church visit weekly to take them medication for the epilepsy and provide general health care.
In the north of Iraq, there are people whose lives are in danger simply because they are disabled and cannot escape the merciless onslaught of Islamic State fighters. International aid workers came across a little girl with epilepsy who was taking refuge in a school. Despite relatively well equipped health centres and hospitals in the region, she had run out of medication, and her parents had no means of getting her any more.
Further south near Mosul, hospital staff have fled, meaning that there are no longer any medical services for the disabled people who remain in the area. One organisation working with the refugees had this to say: “When tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of people need food, shelter and care, people with disabilities and older people need even more support because they can’t move around very easily and go out in search of assistance.”
Living with a disability is challenging in the UK. Imagine living with a disability and having to flee on foot or in a wheelchair from violent insurgents, or having to live on a tiny patch of ground in a refugee camp, with no support or medical services. Our disabled brothers and sisters in Iraq are facing unspeakable horrors right now.
What does this have to do with us? Everyone is aware of the terrible situation in Iraq, it hits our television screens every night. But I wonder how many people think about the Iraqi Christians with disabilities, because there are many of them. So what can we do? As disabled people here in the UK, is there anything YOU can do that will make a difference? I believe there is.
Paul wrote to the Corinthians with these words: “We should like you, our brothers, to know something of what we went through in Asia. At that time we were completely overwhelmed, the burden was more than we could bear, in fact we told ourselves that this was the end. Yet we believe now that we had this experience of coming to the end of our tether that we might learn to trust, not in ourselves, but in God who can raise the dead. It was God who preserved us from imminent death, and it is He who still preserves us. Further, we trust Him to keep us safe in the future, and here you can join in and help by praying for us, so that the good that is done to us in answer to many prayers will mean eventually that many will thank God for our preservation.” (2 Corinthians 1. 8-11)
Paul was aware that praying was far from a pointless exercise. He had personally experienced great deliverance in answer to the prayers of many people. The outcome for Paul was different because people were praying. So please don’t say to yourself that you can “only” pray for the disabled Christians in Iraq. Praying is not a poor substitute for action; rather it is the most powerful weapon in our armoury, the means by which God acts to turn around hopeless situations. So I would like to encourage you this month to pray for our brothers and sisters in Iraq, and in particular for those who have disabilities and find themselves in desperate need. You will be making more difference to their lives than you know.