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Refugees
Many Iraqi Christian refugees have no place to go, and are forced to sleep on the street or in open patio areas with little protection from the elements.

The Islamic State (also known as ISIS), an extreme Sunni militant group, has rampaged across Iraq virtually unchecked for months, using barbaric tactics to purge towns of religious and ethnic minorities — though Christians are the primary target.

Within one 24-hour period, as many as 2,000 refugee families flooded into a town north of Baghdad. At least 800 families found nowhere except the streets to sleep.

Greg Mundis, AGWM executive director, says, "The need of our fellow believers in Iraq is desperate. We who have experienced God's unmerited favor have a responsibility to help Christians who are suffering there."

As Christians flee persecution, several AG churches in Iraq are helping care for them. One church is presently housing 200 refugees.

"The current situation in Iraq exemplifies the importance of having established churches in a country that can touch the poor and suffering firsthand, quickly and effectively," says Randy Hurst, AGWM communications director. "In spite of their own need, our Iraqi brothers and sisters began immediately reaching out to suffering Christians. They are doing all they can, but they need our help to do more. Through them, we can give aid to Christians in Iraq who are fleeing violent persecution."  

Relief
Help is needed to provide adequate relief supplies for the increasing number of Iraqi Christian refugees.

Across the Nineveh plains, an estimated 200,000 Iraqi Christians have fled their homes.

These churches need financial help to purchase food and other emergency supplies, since most of the refugees have nothing of their own. A blanket can be provided for $10, a hygiene kit for $20, and a week's worth of basic food items for a family of four for $60. 

Those who want to help can give online at giving.ag.org and clicking on the "Middle East Refugee Crisis" graphic. Checks should be mailed to AG World Missions, 1445 N. Boonville Ave., Springfield, MO 65802. Indicate "Middle East Refugee Crisis - AGWM Suffering Church Fund #649230-0 (28)" on the memo line of the check. Donations also can be made by calling toll free 1-866-470-9514. 

"Please pray for Christians who are being persecuted for their faith and for those who are reaching out to nonbelievers in the love of Christ," Mundis appeals. "Pray also that all compassionate efforts that are done will 'open a door for the message' (Colossians 4:3) in many lives."

For more information, including pictures of the relief efforts of AG churches in Iraq, click here.

 


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AG churches spared as tornadoes tear through Midwest, South

Mon, 05 Mar 2012 - 4:23 PM CST

In a week filled with severe weather, multiple communities in the Midwest and South were devastated by powerful tornadoes that left death and destruction in their wake.

According to reports, more than three dozen people have died and hundreds have been injured due to the tornado outbreaks, which began last week in Kansas and Missouri and then continued into Illinois, with a another tornado-generating weather system striking farther east later in the week, from Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee and Kentucky to Alabama, Georgia and North Carolina.

Yet despite several communities being "wiped out," AG districts are so far reporting that no AG churches have reported any significant damage. In some cases, district leaders are sharing remarkable stories.

Kentucky District Superintendent Joe Girdler reports that they have communities that are "hardly there" anymore. Yet, he's been told of two instances where a tornado either went around or over the top of churches, sparing them any damage, while buildings around them were destroyed.

"We have churches already bringing in food and water into hard-hit areas, with many others standing by with work teams ready to roll," Girdler says. "At this point, we know of no AG churches or pastors' homes that have been damaged, but there are some communities that we have not heard from [as phone service is down]."

The Ohio District reports a similar experience as in Kentucky. The River of Life (AG) in Moscow, Ohio, was at the center of the storm, but wasn't damaged while everything around it was. The church now serves as command central for volunteers and supplies.

First Assembly of God in Dallas, Georgia, was able to respond to the needs in its tornado-torn community as well. The previous night, the church had prepared soup and sandwiches to do ministry in Atlanta, but when the tornado hit, plans were changed and they were able to provide food and water to workers and families in the area.

According to the Illinois District Office, churches are responding to the tornado that nearly wiped out the community of Harrisburg. Abundant Life Assembly in nearby Marion has been providing food and water, and has offered their facility to use as a storehouse for supplies. Other churches are also offering work crews when officials permit them in.

In addition to church response, the Convoy of Hope is also present in multiple locations. "As the most recent tornadoes were touching down, we had trucks - full of food, water and emergency supplies - on the road headed to areas that forecasters projected to be hit," Karen Benson, director of Global disaster Response for Convoy of Hope, says.  "As soon as we get the green light from local officials, we will begin setting up mobile distribution sites and dispatching debris removal teams."

As Kentucky's Joe Girdler said, "there are many churches, too many to name them all, that have opened their doors and are responding to the need." The same could be said in most if not all the districts where tornadoes struck. Although there have been no reports of AG churches hit by the tornadoes, AG members and their extended families and communities have suffered deep losses - and churches are doing their best to provide compassionate care for victims and workers.

 

Keywords: AG churches
Authors: Dan Van Veen

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