Jordan Update #4

2018-07-19

Today’s update comes courtesy of Rob and Susan Turner from North Carolina. Rob and Susan attended this same conference with me three years ago in Beirut, Lebanon, so they had a head start on relationships with about a third of our delegates. But the story that impacted them most was from a family none of us had ever met before. Enjoy!


2018 07 10 image 01Susan and I had the opportunity to talk with many of the participants at the MENA conference during the week we spent with them in Amman, Jordan. In all, 68 leaders and teachers from 12 countries came for training on Chiseled, Walk Thru’s newest course about the life of Peter. As donors with Walk Thru, we enjoy learning firsthand how God is using our leadership team and Walk Thru materials to speak into the hearts of people around the world. We were especially excited to connect and hear stories of God at work in and through our brothers and sisters as they serve Him in their own countries.

There were a lot of conversations over meals, during breaks, and after each day’s events. One particular lunch conversation was with John and Khatoon. They were neighbors in Baghdad, Iraq, where they had lived for most of their lives. Today they’re refugees living in an Iraqi refugee community in Amman, Jordan. John has been here nearly 2 years, Khatoon for over 4 years. They’ve been waiting all that time for visas to relocate to other countries. They both were told under threat of death to leave Iraq, that it wasn’t their country any longer because they were Christians.

Khatton came to Iraq after a truck bomb destroyed the police station in front of her house, which was also leveled by the blast. She’s here with her daughter, who is sick. She hopes to go soon to Australia, where another daughter lives. John is a widower. His daughter and son-in-law, Munda and Osamah, and other family are also here as refugees. Osamah has a miraculous story of his own involving his capture and release by ISIS. Munda is pregnant with their second child. John has a son in Canada, where he would like to go. Even if John and Khatoon wanted to stay in Jordan, they cannot work due to government restrictions, even though Jordan is open to receiving refugees. We learned that the path for refugees out of Jordan to other countries that will accept them runs directly through the UN. After applying, John and Khatoon can do nothing but wait. With over 500,000 Iraqi refugees in Ammon, no follow up visits or phone calls are permitted. (Ammon has grown from 6.4 million people to over 10 million during the most recent census. Half of that increase is from refugees coming from Iraq, Syria and Egypt).

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Despite their circumstances, Khatoon and John live with a joy evident on their faces and gratitude in their hearts for God’s provision. Through various means of support they are able to cover the essentials of food and a place to live. We asked them what was most important to them now, expecting to hear them say it was obtaining their visas. Instead they quickly answered it was the growth of their faith and walk with the Lord since becoming refugees. Both Khatoon and John told us about their lack of passion for the Word and fellowship with the Lord when they lived in Iraq. Although they owned Bibles, they rarely opened them and their worship once a week was very shallow. But today they eagerly tell of their journey and their joy studying the Bible, praying and growing in the fellowship of believers they’ve found in Jordan among other refugees as well as Jordanians.

Kahtoon and John are regular and frequent members of multiple fellowships, including a small church that meets in the basement of an apartment building in Amman. We attended the basement church where they worship for a Sunday evening service. The pastor taught Crucible, the story of the life of David. Today, although they have lost most of all they held dear, including their homes, although they long to leave Iraq and join their children in other countries, Khatoon and John praise God for His love demonstrated to them as refugees. They are truly grateful despite their circumstances for their new relationship with Jesus which they never had “back home”. Their newfound passion for God’s Word and the certainty of their future in Christ gives them hope above the uncertainty of life as refugees.

We’re grateful we had the privilege of meeting John and Khatoon. We were blessed beyond words by the testimony of their joy even as they shared how much they were encouraged by our time with them. We hope more donors will pray about making one of these trips.

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