Originally published in The Gospel Herald
More and more Kurdish Muslims living in Iraq are turning to Christ after witnessing the brutality of extremist groups like ISIS, who carry out horrific acts in the name of Allah, Christian aid workers have revealed.
A ministry leader in the Kurdish Region of Iraq told the Christian Aid Mission that his organization can barely keep up with the desire of refugees to learn about Christ and the Bible, which has grown increasingly strong since ISIS overtook many parts of the region.
“They’re just sick of Islam,” he said. “People are very hungry to know about Christ, especially when they hear about miracles, healing, mercy and love.”
He added, “As terrifying and horrifying as ISIS is, they did us a great favor because they came and have shown them all the killing, saying that it’s all in the Koran verses. So now we don’t have to say much, we just say the truth.”
Numbers released by the UN in January estimated the Kurdish Region of Iraq is hosting 900,000 refugees, around 233 000 from Syria and the rest from elsewhere in Iraq. As well as Kurds, who have fled northern Syria, the region has also accepted thousands of Arabs feeling the cities of Anbar province, which the terrorist group captured in 2014.
The ministry director revealed that his organisation provides aid to displaced people in tents and whatever dilapidated or unfinished buildings they can find for shelter, with needs for blankets, heaters, food and diapers still being high.
After showing refugees the love of Christ by meeting their needs, aid workers later bring Bibles, he said.
Power of the Word of God
“We just help because we love them, and maybe the next time we visit we tell them about Jesus and give them Bibles,” he said. “We believe in the power of the Word of God. We don’t have many preachers. We don’t have many missionaries, but we have the Word of God that we’re able to print, purchase and deliver to the people and their children.”
The leader said there has a been a great “awakening” among Muslims in northern Iraq, citing many conversion accounts he has personally witnessed or heard secondhand from local churches.
He recalled one particularly memorable account, where a Muslim receiving aid from his ministry was given a Bible.
“He said, ‘OK, but I’m Muslim, I can’t become Christian – I have a big family, and my father is a very extremist radical,'” the director said. “I said, ‘I didn’t ask you to be Christian. I’m not trying to change your religion here. I just want you to read the Bible and know who Jesus Christ is. I want you to have a relationship with God.'”
The Kurdish Muslim agreed, and he began reading the Bible with his wife and their many children. Over time, the Muslim presented the ministry leader with a list of questions he had made while reading, and one day asked for information about the prophet of Islam.
According to the Christian Aid Mission, the surprised director, who normally does not talk about Islam, “gave him a token bit of information about Muhammad that did not include anything offensive about the founder of the religion.”
“I said, ‘Why do you ask me that question?'” he said. “He goes, ‘You know what? I don’t like Muhammad anymore.’ I was happy but surprised, so I said, ‘What now?’ He goes, ‘I want to be a Christian.’ I said, ‘I thought you said you didn’t want to be Christian before.’ He goes, ‘Oh, I changed my mind.’ So he got saved.”
The ministry director emphasised that the Word of God has the power to change lives with no embellishment. He recalled another instance, where administrators at a sharia (Islamic law) college requested 21 Bibles for a comparative religion class so they could equip Muslims with enough criticisms of the Bible to proselytize Christians.
“In a couple months, after they took that class going through the Bible, five of the students got saved,” the ministry leader said. “They called me and said, ‘Hey, we’re done with Islam.'”
Upset by the conversions, the teacher alerted the authorities, who in turn summoned the ministry director. After being asked if he had tried to convert students, the ministry director explained that he didn’t even know them, and had simply provided Bibles because the school had requested them.
The officer confirmed this with the teacher and asked the students why they had converted.
“One said, ‘The Bible is strong, powerful; it changed our lives,'” the leader said. “Then the policeman said, ‘Okay, then go, there is no case here; I can’t do anything.’ So he dismissed the guy and asked me, ‘Is it true that the Bible has the power to change lives?’ I said, ‘Yes, of course. It’s been changing lives everywhere.’ He asked, ‘Can I have a copy?'”