One woman shares her story of finding hope through our partners’ ministry after unimaginable loss.
The war in Syria began in 2011 and has seen many people lose their lives. Countless others have been driven from their homes, some even fleeing the country. I know, because I was one of the displaced.
In early 2019, after coping with the war for eight years, my husband drove off to work one morning, following a route he travelled regularly. He never made it to work. About halfway into his journey, his car was blown up by an improvised explosive device at the roadside and he was killed instantly. Immediately, my world fell apart. How would I cope with four children, three of whom were under 12? I saw no hope and no future.
Eventually, I decided that if we were to have a future without fear, we would have to move out of Syria altogether. I sold my house and business for amounts far below their real worth because I valued freedom from fear for me and my family above material possessions. With a mixture of sadness and relief, we left our nation behind. For good? Who could say?!
Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan was to be our new home, but it was far from easy making the transition and adjusting to our new social circumstances. We were made welcome, but not too welcome. I was not allowed to work, nor were my children allowed to attend school, and I began to wonder not only how long our money would last but also what we would do when it ran out. Our living accommodation was basic with a lot of shared facilities, and we did not know a soul. It was hard to settle and to make friends, and it was tempting to be bitter toward a government who would let us in but at the same time appeared reluctant to let us have a real life. At least we were free and safe.
After a while I discovered that we were not alone. A significant number of other Syrian refugees had made their way to the city, their stories and experiences similar to ours. We began to make friends and to live some kind of normal life, but the fact that all of the dreams I had for me and my family had gone continued to weigh heavy. The emptiness I frequently felt was so deep that I thought it would swallow me, until the day that a Syrian friend stepped in. She told me of a church who were reaching out to refugees and seeking to help us – she asked if I would like someone from the church to visit us. In our situation, you do not refuse offers of help, so I said that I would be happy to receive a visit.
That visit was the beginning of a total turnaround in my life and my circumstances. My whole family was surrounded by a love that I had never really experienced before. We were supported emotionally as well as in many practical ways, and we were told of Jesus, the one in whose name all this outpouring was taking place. We all started going along to worship in the church. Here, we saw for the first time these people’s emphasis on showing the love of God to Syrian refugees and I was surprised by how many Syrian families were being supported and cared for.
Not long after we started going, my older daughter and I gave our lives to Christ. We had found a new family– the family of God. I began to get involved in the church and started sharing the gospel with my neighbours, some of whom also came to faith in Christ. I have seen God work miracles of healing and restoration in people’s lives; seemingly impossible situations resolved; broken people made whole. It has been an amazing journey – one that is far from over.
I still miss Syria, but now I no longer feel displaced. I have a hope, a purpose, a peace and a desire to serve God with my whole heart here in Erbil until He takes me somewhere else – maybe even back to Syria.
Through our Middle East Fund, local workers are being sent out to share good news among Syrian refugees.