God Opens Amazing Doors 9 Sept – 6 Oct 2020
At long last we were heading back into Iraq. Two previous flights had been cancelled due to Covid shutting down airports and airplanes. But now with one airline flying again, we headed out, carrying with us nebulizers and medicines that could be used to assist with Covid patients.
Our desire was to work with the people and to begin developing strong ties with the Erbil government, and to provide Covid relief wherever we could. Sadly, our trusted translator for the previous trips was not available, having had to take refuge by going under the radar due to threats against his life.
Just before departing, Texas approved Sojourners United as a Texas non-profit! The dash to complete this paperwork was helped by our new board member being a retired Texas lawyer. While non-profits wasn't David's expertise, he had experience with several non-profits. The wording that he suggested for the Certificate of Formation would provide pivotal, even providential as we would later apply for 501 c (3) recognition.
Within the first 24 hours of arrival, God provided a new Iraqi advisor for us, one familiar with Iraqi NGOs having formed his own Iraqi NGO a few years previously. Sam and his friend Znar would prove providential in many other ways during this trip: they were able to set up a meeting with us with the Erbil Governor, along with the Erbil Ministry of Health where we were able to share information on Covid advances for them to consider, and to begin working on understanding their systems of care.
Sensing a lull in our work in Erbil, we headed up north taking with us an individual who had been hospitalized after getting assaulted for his religious beliefs. Our goal was to assist a Pastor and family stricken by Covid a little over a week previously, and to provide medical care through some of the organizations up in the Dohuk area. While seeing the Pastor and then his extended family for Covid issues, we received unexpected noticed that the Kurdistan Minister of Health wanted to see us the next morning back in Erbil! Fortunately, the pastor had the connections to get us a taxi that would leave at 5:30 AM to drive us the 2.5 hours back to Erbil for our meeting. And it was a wonderful meeting with the Minister of Health Dr. Farwad. For us, this less than 24 hours filled with amazing meetings at multiple locations, being sensitive to the doors God was opening and acting on these, reminded us a little of what Philip must have experienced in Acts 7 when God's Spirit led him first to the Ethiopian Eunuch on the desert road, and then whisked him away to Azotus onto Caesarea.
God continued to open amazing doors upon our return to Erbil. Through our new friends Sam and Znar, God opened a path for us to get resident visa iqamas in record less than one week time. And then we discovered a local Christian agency that helps NGO's become and stay registered in Iraq as International NGO's. Paths that were closed due to being too difficult were now possible, and we went through these paths as God was opening the doors.
Friends had blessed us with newborn and children's clothing that filled an entire suitcase that we brought to Iraq with us. God opened the doors for us to join with another group that worked with Syrian refugees, and we were able to get clothes and medical care to needy families. We also reconnected with Dr. Farwez, the Syrian Kurdish Physician from our first trip who owns and operates a hospital in Erbil. His hospital specializes in helping restore fertility to Syrian families made infertile through Syrian sterilization interventions. The newborn clothing would be a special present to them.
As we went to the airport on 6 October to fly out, we were rejoicing in all the ways God had opened amazing doors during our trip. But more were about to come: prior to getting to the check-in counter, the airline had an individual asking us about our Covid tests, to which we indicated we had had our testing done prior to coming to meet Iraq's entry requirements. However, the agent was asking for new tests to travel now, a complete surprise to us since the United States was not requiring this for returning US citizens, and the only emails we had received from the airline in the weeks prior to departure were offers to upgrade to business class! Sadly, despite the lack of communication of the airlines testing requirements, and no requirement by the US, we were denied boarding, and our return was now thrown into utter chaos.
To find out what happened with our trip, please see our "Mission Impossible" blog