The “Findaworld” effort is our shared endeavor with local Partners for Scott to visit parts of the Middle East and learn-then share-the stories of those people displaced by extremism, and those who are choosing to put a dent in it.
If you are touched by what you read, SHARE it with people you know; and consider giving financially to one of the listed Partners who is providing relief to displaced families.
The following letter describes in greater detail the Fall 2015 launch of this effort:
Sometimes you hear about a need and know you have to do something.
In May 2015, Elmarie and I met with two Iraqi church leaders to learn more about the circumstances facing families who had been driven from their homes in Iraq and Syria by ISIS.
Here is an excerpt of what we heard:
“NGO’s (Non-Governmental Organizations) we have been working with are not getting any more donations, so assistance is beginning to stop. If it stops, there will be a crisis…NGO’s are enabling us to get by, but what the people are experiencing, we cannot call that living. What used to be the aid amount for one family is now being distributed to multiple families…We have treated the people as intensive care patients. Until now we have tried to keep the patient alive. Now we see no hope.”
I was hit in the gut by what I heard. I knew I couldn’t walk away without committing to some kind of action. But what? Unlike my colleagues in the room, I don’t have a position of power or skill with large organizations and important people.
But I know how to write stories.
After the meeting, I shared my heart with our host, Pastor Haitham of the Presbyterian Church in Kirkuk. We talked about what it might look like for me to spend an extended period of time sharing life up-close with the families whose lives have been uprooted—to discover and write their stories. We talked about how we might share these stories with Presbyterians in the U.S., while providing tangible ways to help these families who have been displaced from their homes in Syria and Iraq. We came up with a vision and a plan for me to return to Iraq in fall 2015 to begin this work.
Since Elmarie and I started this journey two years ago, a key element to my work has been my ability to connect with everyday Middle Easterners and write their stories in a way that engages with churches in the U.S. In 2015 I will be taking this ministry to the next level with a two-week visit to Northern Iraq, during which time I will live with and hear the stories of families who have become displaced due to the advance of the so called Islamic State. These stories will become part of an online effort to increase awareness and financial giving for the benefit of internally displaced families (IDFs) in Iraq and Syria.
Please invite your friends, mission committees and congregations to visit this new blog/website, findaworld.org. Please also consider giving special attention to this effort on the Sundays of October 4, 11, 18 and 25.
During the Sundays of October 4, 11, 18 and 25, I will be making available materials for you to use in worship. These will include video Moment for Missions, bulletin inserts, prayers you may include in worship, a one-paragraph write-up of the October trip for your bulletin, and an announcement for the findaworld.org site. You are welcome to use any or all of these at your discretion. Email me at email@example.com with a request and I will send them to you.
Our hope is that my October visit will be just the beginning of this effort. Following the trip to Northern Iraq, we will post the stories in findaworld.org and encourage readers to share the stories via social media. For congregations, we will be developing follow-up Moment for Mission videos, a Lenten devotional and a five-part VBS mission segment which your congregation would be able to use starting with Summer 2016.
The findaworld.org site will also include links and information for individuals and congregations to financially contribute to support the relief work in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. I believe that as people begin to engage with the stories of everyday people in the Middle East (the beautiful as well as the awful), the interest in contributing financially will then happen in a natural and healthy way.
Funds for relief work in Iraq will be distributed by one of our Presbyterian Church partners in Northern Iraq (Names and Locations are intentionally withheld in online posts such as these)
The giving information is as follows:
Make checks payable and send to:
Presbyterian Church (USA)
PO Box 643700
Memo Line: ECO E051722-Relief Work
Elmarie and I are grateful for your partnership and hope you will consider being part of this next step of our ministry in the Middle East.
In Christ’s Joy,