By Billy Ray
Well, we have had some interesting developments occur in the past few days.
Our landlord stopped by and asked us if we were wanting to move or not. We said "No, we weren't really thinking about that." Then, he said, "Well, come with me and let me show you another house."
So, I went over to see this other house that he has just 3 blocks away. He says that the folks are moving out in 7 days, and he’d like to see us move in there. "Well," I say, "we still have a couple months left on our contract." He nods, yes, yes, but then, explains that they want to demolish our present house and build another one. He said that he’d help us with the move and just sort of roll the rent over, and since it was basically in the same neighborhood that it wouldn’t be a problem. I said that we would think about it.
For the past year, I have been traveling up to Soran about once a week. It’s a two hour, somewhat hair raising drive, and two hours back. As we talked things over, we felt like the amount of time we were going to spend in Soran was only going to increase. So, it became clear that if we had to move, we might as well move there.
This will be our 8th house in just under 9 years of marriage. Long ago, we felt God highlight a verse in Jeremiah. It states, "I will rejoice in doing them good, and will assuredly plant them in this land with all my heart and soul." (Jeremiah 32:41)
Sometimes it takes a little while to find the correct soil mixture to do the right job. For us, that has meant living in 6 different cities in 3 different countries. We’re not saying that we have finally found the right spot, but it sure looks better than all our previous ones.
We were told that we would be one of the first ‘foreign’ families to ever move to Soran. There have been individuals that have moved there before, but that we would be really one of the first families to do so.
I wish you could see Soran. It is surrounded on all sides by mountains rising over 6, even 7 thousand feet tall. You have to pass through a 10 mile gorge just to get into the Soran valley with walls stretching over a thousand feet tall on either side.
It was one of the first regions that revolted against Saddam’s harsh regime. It is a valley actually containing many ‘foreigners’ however.
When Saddam pushed his armies up into this region over 30 years ago, Kurds by the thousands, poured across the Iranian border escaping for their lives.
Now, as peace has come to the secure Northern regions of Iraq, the Kurds have returned. 80% of those in Soran have just moved back into the area.
Located 18 miles from Iran and 24 miles from Turkey, you might say it is close to the heart of it all. At the same time, these people that live there have been worn down by Saddam’s oppressive regime and then by the Ayatollah’s in Iran. They have seen the worst sides of Islam and are open and willing to hear the Truth.
Dawn was talking with some of these refugee Kurds last week. They invited her into their home and served her tea, asking her what her faith is. After sharing a bit of what she believed, she asked the women what they believed. The women quickly responded, "Oh, we don’t have a faith, but we believe in God"
This is the kind of open door that we are seeing in this strategic zone in the Middle East. It has experienced the ruthless hand of a secular Islamic dictatorship on the one hand, and the equally unbending hand of a religiously motivated Islamic State.
As of yet, the Kurds of Soran have never beheld the body of Christ formed together to worship in their language. Some ethnic Christians remain that are of Assyrian and Chaldean descent practicing Catholic or Orthodox Christianity, but for the Kurds in this region there has never been a church for them.
We hope to move up there in the coming weeks, but we are not going alone. God has called two other American Christian families to join us as we seek to spread God’s word amongst this hungry people, while we reach out to the widows and orphans that live all around our new community center.
Please pray for us to find the just the right house, in the just the right neighborhood, with just the right neighbors. And pray that God allows our roots to go deep in that land.
Plants can survive for a surprisingly long time in large pots, but eventually you have to plant them into the ground and let them take root more permanently. We are waiting for that moment when God really does take us out of the pot and plant us in heart of the Middle East – plant us deep with "all His heart and soul."
Thank you for your prayers during this transition time.
You can read more from Billy at his blog, Rescue Iraq.