From Religion to Relationship
A Samaritan’s Purse staff member in Northern Iraq who lost everything when he had to flee from ISIS terrorists finds hope in Jesus Christ.
By YAQOOB B.
Like everyone in my town, I took my parents, my wife, and my two children and drove away from the evil of ISIS during the night just before they entered our town.
In the beginning, we thought it would be one day before we could return home, so we spent the night in our car waiting for sunrise. But in time, we realized that this conflict wouldn’t be solved by days, weeks, or years. It may never get solved. We realized that something big was being planned in our country.
No one can imagine or feel what we felt except the people who were part of this sad experience. I lost my house, my bank account, my father’s and grandfather’s farms, my 36 years of work, and my family’s inheritance. All the hard and long days I spent working as an engineer and all the fortune I inherited from my father and grandfather were gone in one second.
Many cousins, neighbors, and friends were dispersed, and we lost them. Lots of people were killed, kidnapped, and forcibly moved by ISIS. I don’t want to describe it. For me, the word “disaster” is too small to describe what happened.
After realizing the extent of this conflict, I started to look for any hope to get my old life back. Every day I watched the news and talked to people to find an exit from my problem, but there was nothing except hopelessness.
As a staff member with Samaritan’s Purse, I attend regular mornings devotions. At one of them, I asked the other staff members to pray for me to find hope because what’s happening in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, France, and some other countries blinded me from being able see a ray of hope.
Yaqoob (left) with Samaritan’s Purse friends
David, a staff member who I used to ride and work with every day, never got tired of having religious conversations with me about any subject or any part of a real Christian’s life. After a few days, he asked me if I had found the hope I was looking for. I told him that I had not. He then said one of the strongest things I’ve ever heard.
“Listen to me, brother,” he said. “Hope isn’t something you will see with your eyes or something you’ll be able to hold with your hands or something that will run toward you. You have to know what the hope is first, brother. The hope is something you will find and feel through your relationship with God if you have a true, faithful, and direct relationship with Him. You have to work on it and improve it. This relationship will make you trust in God, and this trust will become a hope. It’s this simple, brother; it’s no more than that. I give you this idea as homework. Go and think about it.”
I left the truck, but his words kept coming into my ears like a whistling. They followed me all the way home, and when I arrived, I started a personal devotion. I prayed to God and talked to Him, and every time, He led me. With time, I felt better, and within a few weeks, I started to see that the “ray of hope” was God Himself.
I now have a strong relationship with God. He told me that He sent His only Son for me. I trusted in Jesus as my Savior. It’s the hope I was looking for.
I believe that Jesus can change lives. I know that Jesus is working out good things for me, although I don’t know what those things are yet. I lost my money, but I’m glad I gained my Jesus. When I had money, I didn’t have Jesus. I found that my real hope is not in this short mortal life but in my real eternal life.
David taught me not to fear anyone. He said that he was with Jesus every day, so if someone wants to take his life, he’s not fearful because then he will be face-to-face with Jesus. I feel strong and undefeated because Jesus is with me in this life, and if I go, I will go to Him.
I shared my experience with my wife. She was happy, and we want to tell the rest of our family, our church, and all of our friends.
Recently in morning devotions with Samaritan’s Purse, I asked all my brothers to pray for Iraqi Christians, Muslims, and Yazidis to find hope. I pray to God for them to accept Jesus as Savior. I pray that some of them will find Jesus through the work of Samaritan’s Purse. I pray that we are sowing and someone else will come to irrigate. Although it may not be in our time, God will harvest in His time.
Most of all, I want to thank my brother and teacher, David, who helped me and shared his life experiences. May God bless him and support him to help others the way he helped me.