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  • American FRRME | Egypt Releases Coptic Christians

    Egypt Releases Nine Coptic Christians Jailed for Attempting to Rebuild Church By Keely Jahns Published On April 28, 2022 On April 24th, 2022, after outcry from human rights organizations, the Egyptian State released nine Coptic Christians who were detained for attempting to rebuild their community church. They had been detained for nearly three months. ​ Coptic Christians, the largest non-Muslim religious minority in the Middle East, make up roughly 10 to 15 percent of Egypt’s predominantly Sunni Muslim population of 103 million people. The community has long complained of discrimination and underrepresentation. ​ The nine residents of Ezbet Faragallah village in Minya governorate, south of Cairo, were part of a protest of about 70 people who on January 22nd had demanded the restoration of their church, which had burned down five years earlier. The act is widely believed to have been arson. Most in the village, including the clergy, believe it was burnt down by extremists; but an Egyptian law restricting Christian worship kept them from putting down a single brick to rebuild it. The church was burnt down in 2016, and clergy petitioned the government for the right to restore it, but received no response from authorities, even when it was fully demolished by the local government in July 2021. ​ This delay is in direct contradiction of the restriction itself, which maintains that there should be a period of no longer than four months between the submission of such a request and an official response. Clergy and adherents are forbidden from building new churches, rebuilding damaged churches, or even making repairs to their churches without special approval from the Egyptian government. Mosques require no such approval. ​ Why such a double standard exists can be traced back to Article Two of Egypt’s Constitution: “Islam is the religion of the State … The principles of Islamic Sharia are the main source of legislation.” Sharia law follows the Muslim faith and belief in Allah and does not specifically address non-Muslim places of worship; strictly interpreted, the law forbids the building or renovating of churches in Egypt. Although the law is not uniformly enforced across Egypt, the aversion toward Christians in Egypt lives on. ​ According to Amnesty International, the Egyptian authorities point to Law No. 80/2016, on Building and Repairing Churches, as an advancement of the rights of Christians in Egypt; however, in practice, the law is often used to prevent Christians from worshiping by restricting their right to build or repair churches, including those damaged in sectarian attacks. ​ The nine villagers belonging to the The Church of Saint Joseph and Abu Sefein protested and were charged with “participating in an assembly that endangers public peace, and committing a terrorist act with the aim of disturbing public security,” according to the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR). ​ According to EIPR, authorities have conditionally approved less than 40 percent of requests to build or repair churches since the law came into effect, with only 20 percent granted final approval. ​ In a statement last month , the rights watchdog Amnesty International called for the residents’ release, saying the authorities had “for years ignored calls to rebuild the church, leaving around 800 Coptic Christians without a place to worship in their village.” ​ They were released this past Sunday when Coptic Christians, as well as Orthodox Christians around the world, celebrated Easter – a true victory on Christianity’s holiest day. ​ The restrictions against Christians in Egypt are unfortunately not unique. Islamic Shariah, and anti-Christian sentiment are common across the Middle East. In many predominantly Muslim countries, your religion is a part of your birth certificate and is determined by the religion of your parents. ​ This leads to discrimination on a social level, which is in most circumstances, perfectly legal. And, although anyone may change their paperwork in order to officially denote a conversion to Islam, in most Middle Eastern countries, converting from Islam to Christianity, or any minority religion, is not legally recognized. ​ Those who wish to publicly convert from Islam to Christianity often face legal action under strict blasphemy laws, which include imprisonment, forced conversions back to Islam, and even death. According to Pew, 90% of countries in North Africa and the Middle East had some form of blasphemy laws. ​ These punishments are sometimes carried out by the courts, but are also often carried out by mob violence. In some nations, such as Pakistan, where a seminarian was recently stabbed to death in a “witch hunt,” based on a child’s dream , a mere accusation of proselytizing can lead to violence. ​ The Egyptian Criminal Code explicitly outlaws blasphemy. Nestled among prohibitions on advocating “extremist thoughts,” “instigating sedition,” or “prejudicing national security.” Article 98 also outlaws “disdaining and contempting any of the heavenly religions or the sects belonging thereto.” Although the strong anti-apostasy measures of neighboring nations are not technically in place in Egypt, the Egyptian Criminal Court’s anti-blasphemy precedent has been used to go after so-called “apostates” in the past. And although the Egyptian government recognizes other Abrahamic religions, in practice, government and society is centered around the practice of Islam to the point of exclusion for other faiths. ​ As the Middle East becomes increasingly more hostile to Christians and other ethnic and religious minorities, American FRRME stands committed to programs that provide hope, help, and healing to those escaping sectarian violence. Our programs in Iraq are intended to help those who have lost everything to extremism with the hope to return to their homes and rebuild their lives. Our programs in Madaba offer vital assistance, as well as therapy programs and education to refugees and their children. ​ American FRRME is committed to long term self-sustaining programs and opportunities to help empower refugees and Internally Displaced Persons. Donations to American FRRME go to programs that will aid in the survival of families facing violence across the Middle East.

  • American FRRME | The Struggles of Refugee Women

    The Struggles of Refugee Women By Alice Seeley Published On July 17, 2020 The life of a refugee is hard, but for a female refugee, it is even harder. Refugee women have experienced violence and war that have forced them to flee their homes. They often experience more violence on their way to safety and even in refugee camps. Eighty percent of refugee women live in fear of abuse. ​ In Jordan, four out of five refugees live below the poverty line. Women are more likely to be affected by this. This kind of economic instability leads many families to consider marrying off their daughters, sometimes forcing them into child marriages. And in many cases, girls married before the age of eighteen are more likely to drop out of school, experience gender-based violence, and face significant health concerns. ​ The American Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East provides assistance and restores hope to those who are seeking to rebuild their lives after fleeing persecution, war, and displacement. The Foundation also seeks to advance the rights of women, children, and religious minorities. Among other outreaches for female refugees, American FRRME has constructed an all-girls school in one of the refugee camps in Kurdistan and supports a program to teach work skills to women in northern Iraq, enabling them to become economically self-sufficient. ​ American FRRME is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that promotes reconciliation, provides relief efforts, advances human rights, and seeks an end to sectarian violence in the Middle East. ​ To make a donation to American FRRME, please visit https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/frrmeamerica?code=WebsiteGeneral

  • American FRRME | News - Pg 5

    NEWS 1 - - 2 - - 3 - - 4 - - 5 - - 6 Everyone Loves Ice Cream By Alice Seeley Published On June 24, 2021 Ice cream is everyone’s favorite summer treat! That is why we are very excited to announce the completion of our latest Nineveh SEED project, the Sweet and Ice Cream Shop in Teleskuf! Teleskuf is just 8 miles from Mosul, which… AFRRME Updates Thank You For Helping Linda Restore Her Life! By Alice Seeley Published On June 24 , 2021 When ISIS invaded the Nineveh plain in 2014, Linda, a Christian mother to five children, suffered an immeasurable loss. ISIS burnt down her family’s calf-rearing farm; her family’s only source of income. After this, she and her family fled to Erbil. Once ISIS had… AFRRME Updates Love Each Other as I Have Loved You By Alice Seeley Published On June 21, 2021 As Jesus loves us, we are commanded to love one another. As we slowly return to normal life post-COVID-19, let’s not forget to love those who are not as fortunate. We celebrate how many have now been vaccinated. Sadly these… AFRRME Updates Meet Um Rama By Alice Seeley Published On May 31, 2021 Sylvia, also known as Um Rama, is a Jordanian Christian who has dedicated her life to serving others. In 2014, Sylvia’s eyes were opened to the suffering of her Christian brothers and sisters fleeing ISIS. “I heard about the Iraqi… ​ AFRRME Updates Meet Pastor Zaki By Alice Seeley Published On May 17, 2021 Fourteen years ago, Pastor Zaki opened the only church in the Gardens area of Amman; The Nazarene Church. In 2015, God placed another desire in his heart. A man came to see Pastor Zaki saying, “I want to give you… ​ ​ AFRRME Updates Bringing life back to the Nineveh Plain By Alice Seeley Published On April 8, 2021 Through generous donations, American Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East was able to restore the only Olive Oil Soap factory in the Bashiqa area! This project was part of our Nineveh SEED employment program. Destroyed by the… AFRRME Updates Meet Leka and Ashwaq By Alice Seeley Published On March 30, 2021 In 2014, sisters Leka and Ashwaq fled to Jordan from Qaraqosh when ISIS invaded. Leka has 3 sons and a daughter, Ban. She was only a few weeks pregnant at the time with her youngest son, Androus “Nando.” Nando only… AFRRME Updates Healing Through Music By Alice Seeley Published On March 12, 2021 The Olive Tree Center in Madaba, Jordan offers several different types of therapy and classes including music therapy and lessons to the refugee community, as music is a wonderful tool for healing. Many refugees have witnessed horrific events or lost… AFRRME Updates The Pope is coming to Iraq! By Alice Seeley Published On March 4, 2021 On Friday, March 5th, Pope Francis will make history by being the first pope to visit Iraq. The Pope will arrive in Baghdad, where American FRRME funds St. George’s medical and dental clinic. Through his visit, Pope Francis hopes to… AFRRME Updates 1 - - 2 - - 3 - - 4 - - 5 - - 6

  • American FRRME | News Pg 6

    NEWS 1 - - 2 - - 3 - - 4 - - 5 - - 6 Seeds of Hope By Alice Seeley Published On February 18, 2021 As the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, the refugees American FRRME supports in Jordan remain resilient. They continue to teach that through these tough times, faith, patience, fortitude, friendship, and hope for better times will overcome the fear of the unknown… Read More Meet Sahar By Alice Seeley Published On February 10, 2021 Sahar (names have been changed) is a 35-year-old refugee mother of four. Originally from Qaraqosh (in Northern Iraq) Sahar and her family left Qaraqosh in the middle of the night on August 8th, 2014 when ISIS arrived. Fortunately, they safely… Read More The Hope By Alice Seeley Published On January 19, 2021 Since 2014, the height of the ISIS rampage across Iraq and Syria, villages have crumbled. Countless communities have been hollowed out, as families fled to escape the violence. These families need support. “The Hope”, a support, prayer, and English language… Read More Hope and Healing By Alice Seeley Published On January 11, 2021 Refugee sisters Reem and Nadia (names are changed to protect them) have undergone difficult trials but their faith still remains. First, their father disappeared one night in Iraq. He was never found and presumed killed. Later in 2014, ISIS invaded… Read More Rescued From a “Living Grave” By Alice Seeley Published On December 21, 2020 When ISIS invaded the Nineveh Plain, life became very difficult for many of the refugees American FRRME supports. However, due to Iraq’s war-torn history, the Baltoo family (names have been changed to protect the family’s identity) experienced hardship long before… Read More Please Join Us On Facebook Live To Pay Respects To General David E. Greer By Alice Seeley Published On October 26, 2020 American Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East invites you to join us on Facebook Live to pay our respects to our former Executive Director, Brigadier General David E. Greer. General Greer passed away on July 30th, 2020… Read More Field Notes from Helena By Alice Seeley Published On Various American FRRME- COVID-19 Relief Strategy Update: American FRRME has continued to implement all government-imposed criteria necessary to safely reopen Olive Tree Center. This includes hand sanitizer being mounted on walls, regular cleaning, mask-wearing, regulation of class and center attendance, and social… Read More Good News From The Harsham Soccer Project By Alice Seeley Published On October 13, 2020 Three years ago American Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East started funding the Harsham Soccer Project to restore the soccer field in the Harsham Internally Displaced People’s Camp in northern Iraq. The soccer field was completed in… Read More Children In The Middle East Don’t Have Access To Remote Learning By Alice Seeley Published On September 16, 2020 The past few months have been filled with debate over the reopening of schools and universities. Many schools are adopting a hybrid approach of part-time classes and remote learning and some are entirely remote due to COVID-19. Due to these… Read More Covid Updates By Alice Seeley Published On Various Ten miles away from an American military base in Syria is Camp Rukban. Here 8,000 refugees are starving and isolated from the outside world. The only good news amidst this horrible situation is the zero cases of COVID- 19 in… Read More In Memory of Brig. Gen. David Greer/Executive Director/FRRME America/ 2012 – 2020 Read More We Mourn The Passing Of Executive Director Brigadier General David E Greer. By Alice Seeley Published On August 3, 2020 With great sadness, we announce the passing of our Executive Director, Brigadier General David E. Greer. General Greer passed away on Thursday, July 30th, 2020. He was 69 years old. A native of Memphis, Tennessee, General Greer graduated from… Read More Syrian Refugees Forced Out Of Lebanon By Alice Seeley Published On July 25, 2020 In the past week, President Michel Aoun of Lebanon renewed his call for Syrian refugees to return to Syria, as Lebanon believes the Syrian refugees have had serious repercussions on Lebanese society and economy. The Lebanese President ordered this… Read More Helping The Strangers Among Us By Alice Seeley Published On July 24, 2020 70.8 million people around the world are currently refugees. They have been forced to flee from their homes because of violence, persecution, and war. As Christians, we are called to love and help them. They are what the Bible calls… Read More The Struggles of Refugee Women By Alice Seeley Published On July 17, 2020 The life of a refugee is hard, but for a female refugee, it is even harder. Refugee women have experienced violence and war that have forced them to flee their homes. They often experience more violence on their way to… Read More The Syrian Crisis Worsens By Alice Seeley Published On July 15, 2020 With a severe bread shortage caused by many bakeries suspending work because of a lack of flour and a rise in the price of baking materials, Syria currently faces the risk of mass starvation or another mass exodus. Anti-regime… Read More A Beautiful Example Of Servant Leadership By Alice Seeley Published On July 9, 2020 Interview with Brigadier General David E. Greer, who is the current Executive Director of the American Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East. Alice: How did you and your wife Susan meet? General Greer: We meet at a… Read More Religious Freedom in The Middle East By Alice Seeley Published On June 24, 2020 For peace to be obtained religious freedom and the ability for members of different religions to coexist peacefully is necessary. Religious freedom is a global concern yet more people are persecuted for their faith now than at any other time… Read More The Refugee Crisis in Iraqi Kurdistan By Alice Seeley Published On June 22, 2020 Since 2011, over 2 million refugees have fled their homes and have found refuge in Iraqi Kurdistan. Now, 28 percent –almost one third– of Iraqi Kurdistan’s overall population is made up of refugees. Kurdistan is a region in Northern Iraq. … Read More The Number of Refugees Has Doubled in the Past Decade By Alice Seeley Published On June 20, 2020 Nearly 80 million people worldwide qualify as refugees, asylum seekers, or internally displaced. This number rose by 9 million from a year earlier. It is close to double the 41 million recorded in 2010, despite Covid-19 restrictions slowing down movement. … Read More To Many Refugees, Starvation Is a Bigger Threat Than COVID-19 . By Alice Seeley Published On June 17, 2020 Refugees are already at risk for starvation, but due to COVID-19, they are at an even higher risk. In normal circumstances, starving is a constant worry for refugees. Refugee camps rarely have enough resources. Now, COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions have… Read More Christian Persecution in the Middle East Continues By Alice Seeley Published On June 6, 2020 The persecution of Christians in the Middle East is near genocide levels. The Christians of the Middle East are no strangers to persecution, but it has worsened significantly in the past 20 years and has led to a significant exile… Read More Living Conditions Of Refugees in Jordan By Alice Seeley Published On May 28, 2020 Currently, the Syrian conflict is the largest source of internally displaced people in the world. There are nearly 5.5 million Syrian refugees in the Middle-East. As of 2019, Jordan, which borders Syria, had registered 662,010 of these refugees. Jordan is… Read More The Yazidi Genocide By Alice Seeley Published On May 22, 2020 The Yazidis are a religious ethnic minority, living primarily in northern Iraq. The terrorist group ISIS has accused them of devil worship and because of this has have committed genocide as well as other horrendous crimes against the Yazidi people.… Read More The Iraq Refugee Crisis By Alice Seeley Published On May 21, 2020 Iraq has suffered from decades of conflict with other nations and internal strife. However, the current Iraqi refugee crisis began when militants attacked Christians and ethnic minorities. In 2014, ISIS, the militant group known for its brutality, started to… Read More The Syrian Civil War Crisis By Alice Seeley Published On May 13, 2020 One of the worst humanitarian crises of modern time has been going on for ten years, as of March 2020. This crisis is the Syrian civil war. Over the total course of this catastrophic war, 12 million Syrians have… Read More 1 - - 2 - - 3 - - 4 - - 5 - - 6

  • American FRRME | Boxing

    “Boxing Sister,” Program Helps Internally Displaced Women Kickbox Their Way to Healing By Keely Jahns Published On July 28, 2022 Adapted from a story by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees . ​ A boxing project implemented by an NGO Innovation Award winner is empowering displaced Yazidi women and girls in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. ​ The “Boxing Sister” program helps displaced women and girls to “kick their grief and pain away”. ​ When Nathifa Wadie Qasim was a young girl in Sinjar, in Iraq’s Nineveh Governate, her school had a punching bag that was used by male students for boxing practice. Nathifa punched it almost every day. ​ “I remember I was the only female among my friends who had the courage to get close to that bag and land some hard punches at it,” she recalled. “It helped me to take my stress out.” ​ At home, Nathifa was the primary caregiver for her sick mother and younger siblings while her father was out working the family’s fields. Her mother died just days before ISIS militants attacked Sinjar in August 2014. The militants targeted Sinjar’s majority Yazidi population, subjecting them to a reign of terror that the UN has called a genocide. Thousands of Yazidi men were executed while women and girls were abducted and often sold into sexual slavery. ​ Nathifa’s family was able to escape, ending up in Rwanga, a camp for 12,000 Internally Displaced People (IDP), mostly Yazidis, in Kurdistan. Eight years later, her family is still there, only to have been abandoned by their father, leaving 28 year old Nathifa as the sole provider for her family. That’s when Nathifa began working for Lotus Flower, an organization that supports women and girls in Iraq. So many of the women and girls in the camps were survivors of unspeakable violence, many survivors of kidnapping and sex trafficking. Lotus Flower was looking for a solution that would help bring these young women hope and growth. Nathifa’s first thought was the punching bag she had worked at so many years ago. ​ “The majority of the women and girls in the camp were ISIS survivors,” Nathifa said, “who had trauma as a result of what they had been through in captivity,” she says. “I thought, if those women and girls were physically strong, they might have had a better chance of escaping from ISIS or defending themselves.” The head of Lotus Flower, and fellow survivor, Taban Shoresh, was looking for an outlet to give girls and women facing similar situations, so that they could express themselves, get physically fit, and work toward healing their traumas. Together, Taban and Nathifa worked together to implement a program that would allow IDP women and girls the chance to start kickboxing. “I met a lot of Yazidi women and girls who were impacted by ISIS,” said Taban. “I could see the anger and the emotions trapped inside them. I thought, what will help rebuild their confidence and bring back that power that was taken away. What sport is there? And it was boxing that just came out.” ​ In 2018, Taban brought Cathy Brown, a former professional boxer and cognitive behavioral therapist, to Rwanga to train Nathifa and other young women how to box and become trainers themselves. ​ The “Boxing Sisters” program was born and since then, Nathifa has trained over a hundred girls and women in the sport and self-defense art of boxing. ​ Early resistance from the community to the idea of girls learning to box fell away once the benefits became clear. ​ “They used to say that boxing was not for girls, but they witnessed that the participants got stronger and there is nothing wrong with it,” says Nathifa. ​ The Boxing Sisters program is just one of many projects run by Lotus Flower aimed at empowering Iraqi women and girls affected by conflict to rebuild their lives. They include adult literacy classes, support for women-led small businesses, art therapy and training for women to become mediators and peace defenders. ​ Back at Rwanga camp, Nathifa says boxing has helped the girls in her classes “kick their grief and pain away.” ​ “Now, I feel proud of them. They have become what they and I wanted them to become – strong both physically and psychologically.” ​ Life for IDPs in Iraq is extremely difficult. We support all efforts, in both our organization, and others like it, to start programs that will help facilitate hope, help and healing in the lives of IDPs and Iraqi refugees living abroad. ​ The plight of IDPs and Iraqi refugees is a burden we feel strongly at American FRRME. Our organization is one of a handful that are specifically helping Christian and Yazidi refugees and IDPs in places like Iraq, and helping the Assyrian and Kurdish diaspora living as refugees in other countries, like Jordan. We want the world to know about the plight of Iraqi Christians, Yazidis, and Shabak, and to mobilize Americans and partners around the world to make an impact in the lives of those touched by over a century of sectarian violence. ​ As the Middle East becomes increasingly more hostile to ethnic and religious minorities, American FRRME stands committed to programs that provide hope, help and healing to those escaping sectarian violence. Our programs in Iraq are intended to help those who have lost everything to extremism with the hope to return to their homes and rebuild their lives. Our programs at the Olive Tree Center in Jordan offer vital assistance, as well as therapy programs and education to refugees and their children. ​ American FRRME is committed to long term self-sustaining programs and opportunities to help empower refugees and IDPs. Donations to American FRRME go to programs that will aid in the survival of families facing persecution across the Middle East.

  • American FRRME | St. George's Church & Clinic

    St. George's Church & Clinic DONATE Watch Video A Center for Hope, Help, and Healing in Baghdad St George’s provides more than just Sunday services and a vital Christian community ​ St George’s Church in Baghdad, Iraq was founded in 1864 and is the only Anglican church in Iraq. The present Church building was constructed in 1936 as a memorial to the soldiers of the British Empire who lost their lives in Mesopotamia during the First World War. St. George’s closed under Saddam Hussein’s regime and was relater reopened by the Rev. Canon Andrew White. Today, it is pastored by Iraq’s only ordained Anglican clergyman, Canon Faiz Jerjees. St George’s provides more than just Sunday services and a vital Christian community; it is a center for hope, help, and healing in Baghdad. St. George’s has a medical clinic which has 17 medical staff members and treats 1,500 patients, free of charge, every month. As well as the medical clinic, St. George’s has an elementary school (K-5) and a Mother’s Union that provides food pantry, home visits and fresh meals. American FRRME provides financial support for the operations of St. George’s Church and its outreach efforts; is the cornerstone of American FRRME’s work in Iraq. Canon Faiz Jerjes Canon Faiz has been recognized by the Iraqi and British governments for his extraordinary reconciliation and humanitarian work. He has excellent relationships with leaders from across the sectarian divide, including Sunni, Shia, Yazidi, Shabak, and of course leaders from other Christian denominations. He has been involved with St George’s since 2006. After ordination, he served as a clergyman at the Church, before being licensed as Priest in Charge in January 2015 by the Bishop of Cyprus and the Gulf, Michael Lewis. In 2015, St. George’s supported the internally displaced Iraqis who fled from the ISIS invasion of the Nineveh plain; St George’s provided household goods and provisions to 60 refugee families. In 2017, the Iraqi Ministry of Culture honored Canon Faiz as one of the country’s Distinguished Personalities of the Year for his role in supporting human rights work in the country. In July 2020, he was honored with the award of an MBE- Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire- by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. He was awarded with this title for his “services to the Anglican, Christian and local community in Baghdad.”

  • American FRRME | Christian Persecution

    Christian Persecution Continues Across Globe By Keely Jahns Published On June 24, 2022 The Christian persecution watchdog group, Open Doors, estimates that 13 people around the world are killed each day for following Jesus. ​ Right now, in places like Nigeria, 2.7 million people of many different tribes and faiths, including many Christians, have been displaced by terror group Boko Haram in the Lake Chad Basin. In May, 20 Nigerian Christians were slain by ISIS extremists in a brutal knife attack. In 2014, around 100,000 Christians were estimated to have fled their homes on the Nineveh Plain during the ISIS insurgency. Those that stayed behind were forced into slavery, captured, forced to convert, or killed. To this day, many of the missing still have not been accounted for. House churches in China continue to face intense persecution. Churches that are not affiliated with the Chinese government, and its three centralized and government-approved institutions that regulate all local Christian gatherings, face prosecution. The state-run churches are heavily influenced by China’s totalitarian government which has forced churches to do away with religious imagery to be replaced with images of President Xi Jinping . Wang Yi, pastor of a prominent, independent house church, is currently serving a nine year prison sentence for serving his Lord Jesus instead of the Communist Party. ​ Approximately 2.38 billion people around the world practice some form of Christianity. There are about 167 million Christians in the United States. This leaves us with the majority of Christians, 2.21 billion people, living elsewhere in the world, including many nations which are openly hostile to Christians, Christian converts, or those who practice religion in general as Open Doors notes regularly within their Watch List. ​ Persecution is horrific in the worst regions. In some countries, persecution from other regimes displaces families and destroys lifelong financial stability. In the most extreme countries, the persecution of Christians and other religious minorities creates widows, orphans, and deprives families of their loved ones. And yet, so many in places like Kurdistan – and in places like Madaba, Jordan – refugees and Internally Displaced Persons speak about their experiences being persecuted as something that has led them closer to their Lord Jesus Christ. This was spoken beautifully by Haneen, a student at the Olive Tree Center who spoke during American FRRME’s 2021 Hope Restored Concert. She said: ​ “Joseph’s brothers wanted evil in him, but God brought out of their evil a good for the whole world. Finally, at the beginning of the suffering, I used to say, may God forgive them, but today I say thank you to ISIS the terrorists, because without their brutality and their control over our areas, many of nominal Christians would not have returned to their Creator and become true believers in him. ​ “The first of them is me, as without that catastrophe that befell us, it would have been very possible that I would not know Christ personally, would not be here to share with you my testimony and would not be Haneen who is standing in front of you today. ​ “In the end I will say, thank you ISIS. I love you as I love myself but will never cherish your actions nor your beliefs. As God loves us and distinguishes us from our sins, this is precisely how I feel for you.” ​ The Christians of the Nineveh Plain represent the Church’s 2000 year history of resilience in the face of hardship. Assyrians were among the first Christians, evangelized by the Apostle Thomas in the 1st Century AD. They have remained steadfast for two millennia, and continue to amaze many in their hope and resolve. ​ In Matthew 5:10-12, Jesus says: “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” ​ American FRRME is committed to long term self-sustaining programs and opportunities to help empower refugees and Internally Displaced Persons. Donations to American FRRME go to programs that will aid in the survival of families facing violence in the Middle East.

  • American FRRME | Highlights of Hope Restored

    Highlights of Hope Restored By FRRME Staff Published On August 29, 2021 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4 On August the 6th, 2021, those who have been touched by the Olive Tree Center stood boldly before an international audience, showing the world what it looks like to embody the joy of Christ. The Hope Restored Concert at the Olive Tree Center in Madaba, Jordan was a smash hit. It was a triumph over the tribulations that the refugees at the center have experienced over the last seven years, observing the anniversary of when ISIS invaded the Nineveh Plain. There is no stopping these beautiful people, as God has continued to shape their lives even in their darkest hours. These are Christians who have truly persevered in the faith, in the face of many trials. ​ UM RAMA ​ In her opening remarks, Um Rama, an instrumental leader at the Olive Tree Center, had this to say: ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ “I thank God for the presence of the Olive Tree Center in Madaba, and all of those who support the center, because it is a blessing for Iraqi families who come here. The doors are always open for grace and for blessing.” EXPRESSIONS OF JOY AND PRAISE “Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! ​ Come into his presence with singing! Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; We are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. ​ Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!” Psalm 100:1-4 ​ We had the privilege of seeing our brothers and sisters in Christ talk about how their lives were transformed and healed by God through the Olive Tree Center in the midst of great suffering, and to witness their brilliant creativity through musical performances, poetry, and dance. The Praise Team lifted their voices in a joyful noise, singing stanzas from Amazing Grace and a traditional Iraqi Christian hymn. We heard from the Hope Group about the positivity that the center is able to facilitate in the lives of the refugees, and from one of the English classes about the many obstacles that they, and other Iraqi Christians like them, have overcome. ​ We had the opportunity to partake in unique expressions of Iraqi culture, such as the singing of the Iraqi national anthem by the children at the center, and the traditional dabke dances performed by both the center’s youth and the center’s young adults. The guitar students, who began this season of classes without any prior knowledge of the instrument, performed a traditional Iraqi song about longing for their homeland. Those who spoke also had the opportunity to demonstrate the success of the English language classes being taught at the center. STAVRO ​ At the Hope Restored event, we had the opportunity to hear many heartbreaking testimonies from refugees about “The Black Day,” (August 6th, 2014). Young Stavro, aged six at the time that ISIS invaded his homeland, had this to say: “A part of us died that day. We had to flee our city overnight, because if we stayed, we would have starved or died. We walked many miles to get away, with so many dead people, burned houses, and bodies. We asked our parents when we could return to our joys, our schools, and normal life, but we had no answer. We didn’t know how we would survive, but we believed God was with us. We came to Madaba, [and I] fell in love with this city, [where] we prayed that the war would end and for all nations to know God.” LONGING FOR THE BEAUTY OF QARAQOSH ​ With this, we heard original poetry read by Riveen, written by her father in law, renowned Iraqi poet Benam Attalla, which spoke of the beauty of and the longing for their homeland, Bakhdida (Qaraqosh), Iraq: “We will not leave Our eyes will always see the best Bakhdida is a green branch Its leaves will not wither Embroided on the side of the most beautiful time.” HANEEN ​ Haneen delivered a powerful poem about her experience fleeing ISIS, in which she said in her native tongue that she not only forgives the ISIS insurgents that caused her suffering, but that she loves them as Christ loves us. She credits the difficulties she has faced with drawing her into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ: “Joseph’s brothers wanted evil in him, but God brought out of their evil a good for the whole world. Finally, at the beginning of the suffering, I used to say, may God forgive them, but today I say thank you to ISIS the terrorists, because without their brutality and their control over our areas, many of nominal Christians would not have returned to their Creator and become true believers in him. “The first of them is me, as without that catastrophe that befell us, it would have been very possible that I would not know Christ personally, would not be here to share with you my testimony and would not be Haneen who is standing in front of you today. “In the end I will say, thank you ISIS. I love you as I love myself but will never cherish your actions nor your beliefs. As God loves us and distinguishes us from our sins, this is precisely how I feel for you.” WATCH THE OLIVE TREE CENTER CONCERT TODAY ​ You won’t want to miss out on this amazing event, and now you won’t have to. The Olive Tree Center: Hope Restored Concert is available to view in its entirety on the America FRRME Youtube channel. ​ May this concert bless you as it blessed us!

  • American FRRME | Bipartisan Support

    National Leaders Show Bipartisan Support for Persecuted Church in DC Summit By Keely Jahns Published On July 21, 2022 In June 2022, the plight of the persecuted church was highlighted during the second annual Summit on International Religious Freedom (IRF) in Washington, D.C. The conference saw bipartisan support by leaders from both sides of the aisle, as well as from both the current and former administration. In a bipartisan collaboration, they agreed on the need to counter hatred, discrimination, genocide, and other violence against religious people across the globe. “The United States will continue to stand up for religious freedom worldwide,” said U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. ​ Former U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, added that “Religious liberty is fundamental to a free society.” ​ That kind of bipartisanship is exactly the goal of the IRF Summit.The Summit was co-Chaired by Sam Brownback, who served as Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom under President Trump, and Katrina Lantos Swett, president of the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice and former Obama appointee. ​ The Summit provided a show of unity among the left and the right and across the political spectrum. Those in the highest positions of influence in our nation were encouraged to work together for the plight of persecuted religious minorities around the world, work shopping solutions involving international charitable outreach, diplomacy and through policy making at home. ​ “Our simple motto is religious freedom for everyone, everywhere, all the time,” said Brownback, a Catholic who also called religious freedom “the most abused human right in the world today.” “This is an entirely non-partisan issue,” said Swett, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “Everybody — Democrat and Republican, right and left and center — has come together to defend this foundational right.” ​ Blinken and several other government and religious leaders said it’s a right that should matter to those who are not religious too. ​ “Freedom of religion is a human right. It’s a vital part of our identity,” said Blinken, who like Pompeo appeared at the conference by video. “Follow whichever belief system you embrace, or choose not to follow any belief system at all.” ​ Pompeo introduced a panel discussion on the national security implications of religious persecution. During the panel, several speakers agreed that religious freedom is inseparable from other basic human rights like freedom of speech and freedom of the press. ​ During the Summit, panelist Lord David Alton stated that “Religious freedom is a harbinger of things to come. It’s the canary in the mine of what’s coming in the future.” He added that “if you don’t understand the state of religious freedom in a country, then you don’t understand very much about it” and “if you do understand it, you get a pretty good view of the condition of that country.” Lord Alton also pointed out that religious freedom is an “orphan right” around the world and that religious illiteracy leads to massive destabilization. That includes its role as a motivating factor for many of the world’s more than 70 million refugees , he said. ​ This is something we see frequently in our work at American FRRME, where the vast majority of the refugees we help are Christians fleeing Islamic persecution – but also Yazidis and Shabak fleeing persecution for their culture and beliefs as well. ​ The U.N. Declaration of Human Rights states that each person has the right to believe, the right not to believe and the right to change beliefs. Infringing on those rights has consequences for any country, Lord Alton said. ​ “It behooves governments, if they’re truly interested in the common good, to understand religious communities. If they don’t understand them, they’re going to struggle,” said the Religious Freedom Institute’s Andrew Bennett, who was Canada’s first ambassador for religious freedom. ​ However, the U.S. State Department’s latest International Religious Freedom Report , released earlier this month, showed that many countries continue to suppress religious liberty. “Far too many governments remain undeterred in their repression of their citizens,” said Rashad Hussain, the U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom. ​ “First, governments continue to use discriminatory laws and policies to abuse their own people. Second, increasing social intolerance and hatred fueled violence and conflict around the world. And third, effective collaboration among governments, multilateral partners and civil society has led to positive change and provides hope in addressing these complex challenges.” ​ Brownback said religious freedom offers solutions to national ills. Religions also can help each other. “Religion is the one entity that can stand up to government that government can’t subdue,” he said. ​ U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appeared by video to introduce a panel about the impact of religious freedom violations against women worldwide. She said attacks on religious freedom harshly and disproportionately impact women. ​ “This injustice has taken on many sickening forms around the world,” Pelosi said, adding that “all freedom-loving people have an obligation” to stand up for religious freedom. ​ Throughout the 2022 IRF Summit there were repeated calls for unity of purpose across religions, governments and other sectors of civil society with calls for cultures to change, both within religions and in the broader society. ​ “Some people are terrible people to one another on the basis of their faith. We need to be open about that,” said Allison Ralph of the Aspen Institute’s Religion and Society program. “The inability to talk about it does not serve us well. Religion is a minefield of individual and collective hurts. If we can’t talk about that, we can’t solve any of these problems. This is about changing our culture so we can move forward together.” Organizations like American FRRME are providing authentic support for those fleeing religious persecution in the Middle East. Until comprehensive solutions for the ongoing crises of sectarian violence and political instability are implemented across the Middle East there will still be an influx of refugees from this part of the world. ​ As the Middle East becomes increasingly more hostile to Christians and other ethnic and religious minorities, American FRRME stands committed to programs that provide hope, help and healing to those escaping sectarian violence. Our programs in Iraq are intended to help those who have lost everything to extremism with the hope to return to their homes and rebuild their lives. Our programs at the Olive Tree Center in Jordan offer vital assistance, as well as education and therapeutic activities for refugees and their children. ​ For these refugees, intervention is everything. They have lost their homes, their livelihoods and their loved ones as they’ve uprooted their entire lives to travel to countries where they are often heavily restricted or even unwelcome in the community. Discrimination, poverty and lack of opportunity presents itself in many refugee communites across the world. Apprenticeship programs, food assistance, medical care, education and therapy are all necessary interventions to steer refugees toward success and provide a sense of normalcy. ​ American FRRME is committed to long term self-sustaining programs and opportunities to help empower refugees and Internally Displaced Persons. Donations to American FRRME go to programs that will aid in the survival of Christian families facing persecution across the Middle East.

  • American FRRME | News - Pg 4

    NEWS 1 - - 2 - - 3 - - 4 - - 5 - - 6 Stories of Hope: Meet Nadira By Alice Seeley Published On October 26, 2021 Meet Nadira, one of the many refugees who are eternally grateful to St. George’s Medical Clinic. Her story is one of trauma, survival, and hope. Originally from Baghdad, Nadira’s husband was killed in a suicide bombing in 2005. His body… AFRRME Updates Olive Tree Farm in Bashiqa By Alice Seeley Published On September 23 , 2021 Made possible by your donations, American FRRME and Mosaic Middle East planted 500 olive trees at the Olive Tree Farm in Bashiqa! This Nineveh SEED project restored an olive tree farm that was destroyed by ISIS. Nineveh SEED programs are… AFRRME Updates Reflections on Afghanistan By Alice Seeley Published On September 10, 2021 Dear reader, Below is a personal reflection written by Helena Scott, the Jordan Country Director for American FRRME and Mosaic Middle East in the UK. She reflects on two events, 7 years apart, which changed the lives of thousands. The… AFRRME Updates A beacon of hope, help, and healing By Alice Seeley Published On September 1, 2021 Did you know that Christians are the minority of the minorities in Baghdad? “I worry for the future of the Christians in Iraq. I pray that God will save us from what could happen in the future,” said Canon Faez… ​ AFRRME Updates Highlights of Hope Restored By American FRRME Staff Published On August 19, 2021 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not… AFRRME Updates Meet Falah Zaki By Alice Seeley Published On August 18, 2021 Falah Zaki, a famous carpenter in Iraq, left with his family when ISIS invaded. He learned his trade at 12-years-old and led a team that built a series of beautiful churches in Qaraqosh and the surrounding areas, as well as… ​ AFRRME Updates Never Lose Hope and Always Keep Smiling By Alice Seeley Published On August 11, 2021 COVID-19 has brought destruction across the world, especially to the most vulnerable. Many refugees have faced financial hardships and lost loved ones because of COVID-19. However, despite these hardships, the refugees we support are strong, resilient, and always depend on… AFRRME Updates The Olive Tree Center’s Hope Restored Celebration Concert 2021 By Alice Seeley Published On July 21, 2021 Join us via Zoom for a special, live event on August 6th at the Olive Tree Center in Madaba, Jordan, to observe the seven year anniversary of the ISIS invasion of the Nineveh Plain. We will be celebrating the survivors… ​ ​ AFRRME Updates You’re Invited! By Alice Seeley Published On July 21, 2021 A celebration of Iraqi Christian Refugees seven years after the ISIS invasion of their homeland. ​ ​ ​ ​ AFRRME Updates Thank You! By Alice Seeley Published On July 15, 2021 At American FRRME, we bring hope, help, and healing to those whose livelihoods have been destroyed by acts of violence. To continue restoring lives we need your support! In the outskirts of Erbil, Iraq at the Harsham refugee camp, hundreds… AFRRME Updates Save the Date: August 6, 2021 By Alice Seeley Published On July 2, 2021 Hope Restored: A celebration of Iraqi Christian Refugees seven years after the ISIS drove them from their homes. ​ ​ ​ ​ AFRRME Updates Never Lose Hope & Always Keep Smiling By Alice Seeley Published On July 1, 2021 COVID-19 has brought destruction across the world, especially to the most vulnerable. Many refugees have faced financial hardships and lost loved ones because of COVID-19. However, despite these hardships, the refugees we support are strong, resilient, and always depend on… AFRRME Updates 1 - - 2 - - 3 - - 4 - - 5 - - 6

  • American FRRME | News - Pg 3

    NEWS 1 - - 2 - - 3 - - 4 - - 5 - - 6 Meet Enaam By Keely Jahns Published On April 21, 2022 Meet Enaam, a teacher from Iraq, whose life changed when ISIS invaded Qaraqosh. Life was happy and stable for Enaam and her family, despite the challenges faced in her country before the insurgency. “Qaraqosh is a Christian town. It is… AFRRME Updates Easter Sunday: Traditions in Iraq and Around the World By Keely Jahns Published On April 14 , 2022 This Sunday, April the 17th, millions of Christians around the globe will be celebrating Easter and commemorating the resurrection of their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Among them are most Protestant denominations, Roman Catholics, and a majority of people in… AFRRME Updates Iraq, Syria, and Ukraine: Reflections on the Global Refugee Crisis By Keely Jahns Published On March 31, 2022 As of March 30, 2022, 4 million people have fled their homes in Ukraine. Millions are internally displaced amidst gruesome fighting, and millions have fled the country into neighboring nations such as Lithuania, Romania, Moldova, Hungary, and Poland. The International… AFRRME Updates David E. Greer Scholarship: A Legacy to Enrich Lives By Keely Jahns Published On March 24, 2022 The General David E. Greer Scholarship Fund has been established in memory of the organization’s former Executive Director, Brigadier General David Greer who lost his life in a tragic accident in 2020. “David had a deep affection for the people… AFRRME Updates General Greer Scholarship Fund to Provide Education to Refugees in Jordan By Keely Jahns Published On March 10, 2022 In the West, most children are afforded a K-12 education. In places like the United States, as well as in many European countries, children are guaranteed an option of free public education. This sets children up for success in life,… AFRRME Updates Catholic University Offers “Pope Francis Scholarships” to Iraqi Christians By Keely Jahns Published On March 3, 2022 Education impacts your entire life. That’s why Catholic University is offering Christians in Erbil the opportunity to rebuild their lives. Along with many who stayed and rode out the turmoil, there are countless Christians returning to Iraq nearly eight years… AFRRME Updates New Catholic Church and University Bringing Hope, Help, and Healing to Christians in Erbil By Keely Jahns Published On February 24, 2022 “Christians in Iraq will not become a museum exhibit for religious tourists to come and view.” – Father Benedict Kiely It was August 2014. Erbil and the roads out of Northern Iraq were filled with hundreds of thousands of Christians… AFRRME Updates As Tensions Rise at the Iraqi-Syrian Border, Iraqi Christians Cling to the Hope of a Peaceful Future By Keely Jahns Published On February 10, 2022 Jihadist tensions along the Iraq-Syria border are being watched carefully by Iraqi Christians. It was not long ago that ISIS waged war on Christians and Yazidis in the Nineveh Plain, attacking towns, burning churches, forcing conversions, and killing families. Most… AFRRME Updates Priest Murdered in Northwest Pakistan By Keely Jahns Published On February 3, 2022 On January 30th, 2022, Bishop William Siraj, Father Naaem Patrick, and a third, yet unnamed priest had just finished celebrating Sunday Mass in the Gulbahar neighbourhood of Peshawar City, Pakistan. The holy men were walking home in peace, when the… AFRRME Updates Action Needed to Keep Christians from Leaving the Middle East By Keely Jahns Published On January 26, 2022 Jihadist tensions along the Iraq-Syria border are being watched carefully by Iraqi Christians. It was not long ago that ISIS waged war on Christians and Yazidis in the Nineveh Plain, attacking towns, burning churches, forcing conversions, and killing families. Most… AFRRME Updates Christians Struggle to be Counted in Iraq’s Democratic Process By Keely Jahns Published On January 17, 2022 Christians Struggle to be Counted in Iraq’s Democratic Process Iraq is home to the oldest continuously practicing body of Christians in the world. In 1990, there were estimated to be 1.5 million, 3% of the total Iraqi population. Since then,… AFRRME Updates Christian Villages Emptied Once Again By Keely Jahns Published On December 6, 2021 Iraqi Christians are under siege once again. Christian villages across Kurdistan are bracing for bombardment. On November 6th, 2021, Turkish bombs fell over the town of Father Samir Youssef, an Iraqi priest who has seen wave after wave of violence… AFRRME Updates 1 - - 2 - - 3 - - 4 - - 5 - - 6

  • American FRRME | Enaam

    Meet Enaam By Keely Jahns Published On April 21, 2022 Meet Enaam, a teacher from Iraq, whose life changed when ISIS invaded Qaraqosh. Life was happy and stable for Enaam and her family, despite the challenges faced in her country before the insurgency. ​ “Qaraqosh is a Christian town. It is one of the biggest towns in Iraq. The majority of Christians lived in Qaraqosh. Before ISIS, my life was very normal. I was a teacher, and I liked my job. Life was good in spite of all of the hard times in Iraq, before ISIS,” says Enaam. ​ But after ISIS, everything changed. Enaam and her family were forced to leave everything behind to avoid capture by the insurgents. ​ “They attacked all of the houses in Qaraqosh and dropped everything, and captured all of the people that they found. They are missing even now. [We] don’t know anything about them. We think that they are all dead. Troops came to attack peaceful people living their normal lives, just because they were not from the same religion. I never thought that this would happen to us.” ​ Enaam’s family had to leave their jobs and live wherever they could find safe lodging. They lived on farms, on the steps of a church, and even shared a small house with another family; her entire family living in a single room for three years, sleeping and eating in the same space without any privacy or normalcy. ​ “I started losing my focus in many things. Maybe it’s a trauma. Until now, I see the nightmares.” Enaam, her brother, and her mother were finally able to get safe passage out of Iraq and a visa to Jordan, which is currently safe from the dangers of ISIS. Even though Christians are safe here, life has not been easy since arriving in Jordan. Iraqi refugees are not allowed to work in Jordan or receive an income of any kind. They must rely on the assistance of organizations like American FRRME in order to eat, to afford lodging, and to educate their children. ​ “From the first day we arrived here in Jordan they told us about a revival church and American FRRME. Living here as a Christian is very safe. We feel safe here in Jordan. But the hardest thing is how to live. We don’t have incomes. With American FRRME, we get food boxes, food coupons. They helped us with medicine also. Without their help, we couldn’t stay or survive here. We are so grateful, so thankful for [everyone’s] help. You are the light.”

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