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- American FRRME | Never Lose Hope
Save the Date: August 6, 2021 By Alice Seeley Published On July 2, 2021
- American FRRME | Olive Tree
August 6th Event at Olive Tree Center Garners Worldwide Media Attention for Iraqi Refugees by Keely Jahns August 11, 2022 On August 6th, 2022, Iraqi refugees and friends of the community gathered at the Olive Tree Center in Madaba, Jordan to commemorate the eighth anniversary of the ISIS invasion of the Nineveh Plain. Their displays of resilience and joy were an affront to the the insurgents who inflicted terror on their communities eight years ago. The event was a brilliant display of culture and healing, and has garnered attention from news outlets around the world. See what the press is saying about the event, about Iraqi Christians, and our mission, here: The Baptist Press | Christians still displaced from northern Iraq 8 years after ISIS invasion The Christian Post | Refugees commemorate 8th anniversary of Islamic State invasion of Iraq Baptist Standard | Iraqi Christians still displaced eight years after ISIS invasion Church Leaders | Christians Still Displaced From Northern Iraq 8 Years After ISIS Invasion Christianity Daily (South Korea) – IS 이라크 침공 8주기…미 구호단체 “기독교 난민 100만명 무국적자” (8th Anniversary of the IS Invasion of Iraq… US Aid Group Says 1 Million Christian Refugees are Stateless) Real America’s Voice | American Sunrise | AFRRME Chairman, Col. Max Wood, on American Sunrise discussing the persecution of Iraqi Christians The Worldview in 5 Minutes Podcast Features: Iraqi Christians Attacked by ISIS Need YOUR Help Christian Iraqis Celebrate 7-year Anniversary After ISIS attack Iraqi Christians Mark Tragic Anniversary Life is not easy for Iraqi refugees. As adversity grows, programs are needed to protect the most vulnerable of these refugees. American FRRME is committed to offering 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 | Respects to General David E. Greer
Please Join Us On Facebook Live To Pay Respects To General David E. Greer By Alice Seeley Published On October 26, 2022 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 in Santa Cruz, California. He was 69 years old. A native of Memphis, David graduated from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Field Artillery Corps. He served on active duty and in the Tennessee Army National Guard for 36 years, retiring in 2008 as a Brigadier General. After retiring from the Armed Forces, General Greer worked for the State Department with the Baghdad Provincial Reconstruction Team. It was there that he met and married his wife and best friend, Susan. In 2011, the Greers moved back to Maine and retired, but David’s work was not over. In 2012, he was asked to use his talents to head American FRRME, and he served as Executive Director until his death. General Greer is survived by his wife, Susan; his daughter, Kathryn Greer Harvey (Chad); grandson, Caleb; and stepson, Richard Depolo. A memorial service will take place on Thursday, October 29, 2020, 3:30 pm PST, at Central California Coast Veterans’ Cemetery in Seaside, California. The service will be led by Steven Lefever, Lay Minister of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Ben Lomond, California.
- American FRRME | Meet Leka and Ashwaq
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 knows life as a refugee. Ashwaq, Leka’s younger sister, has 3 kids, Cassandra, Clara, and Stavro, who are all active members of the Olive Tree Center in Jordan. For these sisters, it is vital that they are able to preserve their culture and educate their kids on what it means to be Iraqi. For both Leka and Ashwaq, their faith is what got them through the most difficult times, and continues to get them through the difficult circumstances they face every day. As religious minorities, they are not provided for by the Jordanian government and rely on the support of churches and organizations such as American FRRME. When asked what the Olive Tree Center means to them Ashwaq said, “This center gives us a safe space for our children to be free from worry, it allows them to be children for once and to be able to take their minds off of the daily struggles that living as a refugee comes with and to see them be able to learn English, and guitar, music, and art, it makes me so happy and feel God’s blessing in this center.” Ashwaq and Leka helped with the founding of the Olive Tree Center and now lead outreach initiatives at the Center, such as baking and distributing cookies and other goods to other struggling refugees and members of the community. Leka also led the mask-making initiative to help other refugees and community members attend church! She is very enthusiastic about her work. “American FRRME provided me with the tools to do something I love- sew! I loved being able to help the community during this difficult time of COVID,” she said. “It gave me energy and encouraged me to not lose hope when we were stuck at home. This kept me going. It is a blessing to be able to help others from the community, it fills our hearts with joy when we can help others as we’ve been helped. Thank you American FRRME, thank you and God bless you and all who support us. We will always remember you.” 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.
- American FRRME | Living Conditions of Refugees
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 home to the second-largest refugee camp in the world, known as Zaatari. Less than 10 miles from the Syrian border, it opened in 2012 and has since become known as Jordan’s 4th largest “city.” Today, roughly 80,000 Syrian refugees live there in rows of tents. There are few populations more vulnerable to the health risks of inferior living conditions than refugees. Refugee camps are often overcrowded and of poor quality. Although some refugees find work, many –especially children and the elderly—are entirely dependent on aid. Most refugee camps do not have sufficient food to feed their populations. Malnutrition makes refugees weak and more at risk for a variety of diseases and illnesses. Poor living conditions are not limited to the camps. Some refugees—mainly Syrian– live outside of camps in unofficial self-settlements. These settlements, less well known than the camps, are often overlooked when it comes to aid. Sixteen percent of the Syrian refugee population in Jordan report chronic health problems. These health problems often result from these poor living conditions. The dampness and mold of the camps is the source of many health problems, such as aches, pains, digestive disorders, malaria, and respiratory tract infections. Malaria is also a major threat to those living in primitive conditions, often without window screens or solid doors. The American Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East provides humanitarian assistance to refugees who have fled persecution and genocide. It also provides health care on a case-by-case basis among IDPs and refugee populations in Jordan. Please consider donating today to help FRRME provide these life-saving services. 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 NETWORK FOR GOOD.
- American FRRME | Helping the Strangers Among Us
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 “the strangers among us.” The call to help these refugees in need is biblically founded, not just a nice thought or a principle of social justice. Jesus demonstrated this by becoming a refugee Himself, fleeing with His parents to Egypt to escape persecution from King Herod. In the Old Testament, Leviticus 19:34 says “treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you and … love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt”. In the New Testament, Our Lord tells the parable of the Good Samaritan to give us an example of caring for and loving those whom society rejects. Finally, in Matthew’s gospel, Jesus says that when we feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, and visit the sick and those in prison, we are doing it to Him. When we fail to do those things, we fail to serve Him. Jesus puts this in the strongest terms possible: if we neglect to do this we will not inherit the Kingdom. “Then He will answer, “In truth, I tell you, in so far as you neglected to do this to one of the least of these, you neglected to do it to me. And they will go away to eternal punishment, and the upright to eternal life.” We as Christians are called to show God’s love to the most vulnerable in their hour of need. Government assistance can only help so much. The current refugee crisis creates opportunities for Christians to reach out and demonstrate the love of Christ. This means not only offering financial assistance but also praying for and welcoming these refugees whose entire lives have been turned upside down. 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 | Yazidi Forced to Flee
Yazidi People Forced to Flee the Nineveh Plain Once Again By Keely Jahns Published On May 13, 2022 A new round of fighting in Iraq has driven around 1,000 Yazidi families from their homes on the Nineveh Plain. Yazidis are a kurmanji-speaking ethno-religious minority indigenous to Kurdistan, a land that spans parts of modern-day Iraq, Iran, Turkey, and Syria. An ethno-religion is a unique group whose religion is inseparably entwined with heritage and culture. Ethno-religions around the world include Yazidis, Shabak, and Druze. Ones that Americans might be more familiar with would include Judaism and the Amish. Unfortunately, the Yazidi homeland has been rife with many conflicts, some rooted in political philosophy, and others rooted in religious extremism. Political and religious tensions are running high and has often resulted in violence against marginalized groups in the region. According to National Geographic, “For their beliefs, [the Yazidis] have been the target of hatred for centuries.” It is not the first time in recent history that the Yazidis have been forced out of their homes. Like their Christian and Shabak neighbors, Yazidis were targeted by ISIS for eradication in 2014. And just like their neighbors, many Yazidis were forced to convert, face execution, or flee. Many of the captured women and girls were forced into sex slavery. At the time, Yazidi leader Vian Dakhil warned: “Our entire religion is being wiped off the face of the earth.” According to the UN, around 5,000 Yazidi men were murdered and up to 7,000 women and children were kidnapped. Thousands are still missing. Both the UN and the European Parliament have described the events as genocide. Today, many of the families who faced violence in 2014 are leaving their homes once again. In Sinjar, a wave of refugees has fled new fighting that has erupted in the region between the Iraqi government and a resistance group. According to the news agency AFP, the number of Yazidi refugees that flee this conflict could actually be as high as 10,000 people. “It was an unbelievable nightmare,” 34-year-old Murad Shangali told a recent news outlet, the DW. He said that on Monday, “Iraqi security forces attacked the local militia with heavy weapons. We knew we would be the next victims.” So he and his family packed a few clothes, their IDs, and fled in their car to the Cham Mishko refugee camp. Despite a cease-fire between the Iraqi military and the Yazidi militia group last Thursday, hopes for a lasting peace are limited. “We haven’t been able to live happily after we returned home [after ISIS] and now we are scared that the situation is getting as bad as it was, with us being the victims again,” Shangali told the reporter. “What on earth is our mistake? Being an Iraqi Yazidi?” We are saddened to see violence spill-over into communities that have faced wave after wave of adversity. It is always a great tragedy to see peaceful lives uprooted and lost to conflict. In every war, there are innocents that are caught in the crossfire, regardless of the origin of the conflict. We wish for peace in Iraq and Kuridstan, and for the refugees of the 2014 insurgency, and now this conflict, to be able to return home and peacefully reestablish their lives. We know the aching of refugees for their homeland far too well. As an organization, we have worked with several minority communities across Iraq to help build brighter futures, including Yazidis. 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. Please PRAY for the victims of violence in the Nineveh Plain. Pray for the Yazidis, Shabak, and the Christian minority communities of the region, that they are able to heal and rebuild their lives in a brighter and more peaceful future. We dream of a world where everyone may practice their culture and religion in peace, and truly wish to see that happen in Iraq. Pray for the widows, the orphans, and those who are losing their homes and their livelihoods. May the Lord restore peace and have his hand of protection over those fleeing violence.
- American FRRME | Iraqi Refugee Crisis
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 seize territory in western and northern Iraq. Children and families, primarily Christians, were victims of targeted violence as well as being caught in the crossfire. The communities they built and enjoyed were destroyed. Many were forced to flee with only the clothes on their backs. The ongoing violence in Iraq has created a distressing humanitarian crisis in the Middle East, leaving millions of Iraqis displaced in and outside of their country. The current Iraqi refugee crisis is the largest displacement of people in the Middle East since 1948. Since 2015, 4.2 million Iraqis have been forced to flee their homes, with over 2 million of them seeking asylum in neighboring countries such as Jordan and Syria. There are few places on earth where Christianity is as old as it is in Iraq. Iraqi Christian communities can trace their founding back to the first century A.D. In the early 2000s, there were 1.2 million Christians living in Iraq. Today, due to persecution by ISIS, that number is less than 250,000 — an eighty percent drop in less than two decades. The American Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East assists displaced Christians in Iraq and Jordan by providing food, shelter, medical care, and help with relocation. The Foundation’s operations in Baghdad, Northern Iraq, and Amman Jordan have helped thousands to recover from the shock and trauma of sectarian violence and start a new life. Please consider donating to help us keep providing these services. 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 The Refugee Crisis and Education By Alice Seeley Published On May 15, 2020 In most of the western world, the vast majority of children attend school from kindergarten through 12th grade. But not everyone in the world is this privileged. Many First world children view school as a chore and complain about it, children in refugee camps would be overjoyed. Out of the 7.1 million refugee children of school age, 3.7 million — more than half– do not have the opportunity to attend school. Only 63 percent of refugee children go to primary school, compared to 91 percent of non-refugee children. The lack of schools is keenly felt by refugees, who often come from cultures that prize education. Pre-civil war, for example, the Syrian government worked hard to ensure free, public education for all and subsidized post-secondary education. The Syrian culture, as a whole, had a great appreciation for the arts. And in general, education is becoming much more available throughout the Middle East, with the number of college graduates increasing dramatically in the past decade. But where conflict erupts, the effects on countries with established educational systems can be devastating. The situation is even bleaker as refugee children get older. Around the world, 84 percent of adolescents go to secondary school, while only 24 percent of refugee teens have this opportunity. As these young people get older, the barriers that prevent them from accessing learning become harder to overcome. Refugees, like all people around the world, deserve an opportunity to be educated. Going to school gives refugee children a routine and a place of security despite the chaos around them. More importantly, it is the surest road to success after being displaced. An education gives refugees the chance to move on, rise above their circumstances, and rebuild their lives. The American Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East gives refugees this life-changing gift. In 2015, the foundation initiated an afternoon school for Christian refugees in the suburbs of Amman, Jordan, which has gone on to be recognized as a model school in the region. Since then, they have underwritten tuition for refugees attending private schools, provided books and other materials to schools in settlement camps, funded construction and provisioning of an all-girls school in a settlement camp, funded Kindergarten and university expenses for refugee youth in Kurdistan, and taught English classes to both children and adults. Your generous donation will help them continue this work. 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 | Remembrance Event
Displays of Hope, Help, and Healing from the August 6th Remembrance Event at the Olive Tree Center by Keely Jahns August 25, 2022 HOPE, HEALTH & HEALING On August 6th, 2022, the American Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation (American FRRME) hosted a remembrance event with the Iraqi Christian community at the Olive Tree Center in Madaba, Jordan, to commemorate the eighth anniversary of the 2014 ISIS insurgency in Iraq. They gathered to sing, pray, and remember the day that changed their lives forever. Their expressions of joy and perseverance were in direct contrast to the terrorists that attempted to destroy their hope eight years before. Join us as we revisit some of the highlights of this night, with special selections from some of the music and poetry that was shared at the event. The youth at OTC gathered to sing this moving song from the Iraqi homeland: Bless My Country an Iraqi Hymn No matter what the situation is, you will be able to open the seas, no matter how dark the earth is, the sky is full of light. As Nehemiah came to you with tears and called for you, We are all coming to scream, O Jesus stretch out your hands. Bless my country, bless my country, O hearer of prayer in the hearts of all human beings. Bless my country, bless my country, turn to the cry of our hearts and send us rain. Your Holy Spirit gathers bones from every valley, Long live, speak, bow down to you, confess your name, O redeemer. On the cross I cast my sins away, the sins of my fathers and my children, O merciful heart, forgive and listen to the groans of my country. Bless my country, bless my country, turn to the cry of our hearts and send us rain. Your Holy Spirit gathers bones from every valley, Long live, speak, bow down to you, confess your name, O redeemer. On the cross I cast my sins away, the sins of my fathers and my children, O merciful heart, forgive and listen to the groans of my country. Bless my country, bless my country, O hearer of prayer in the hearts of all human beings. Bless my country, bless my country, turn to the cry of our hearts and send us rain. Fada and Karmen from the Hope Group read a joint poem about their experiences leaving their home as refugees. Poem by Fada and Karmen – “My Emigration from my Country” When I emigrated from my country, a day that history will always remember. When I left my town with teardrops in my eyes, I looked up to the sky with a broken heart. I asked God at that moment, is this a dream or the reality? What is happening to us? How shall I leave my country, my memories, and the place I grew up? The birds above the trees sing and say: “Why is this country so quiet?” Elders, women, youth, and kids wondering why is this happening? On those nights, eyes couldn’t fall asleep and the enemy lives in my town, the town that was built by my brother, father, and Grandfather. Only God can heal the pain of our deep wounds, giving us patience, faith, and love to endure the pain of leaving our beloved country. Oh, my country, my country…The day I emigrated. The youth gathered to perform a contemporary worship song in English. 10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord) a contemporary worship song by Matt Redman, performed by the children at the Olive Tree Center Bless the Lord, O my soul, O my soul, worship His holy Name. Sing like never before, O my soul. I’ll worship Your holy Name. The sun comes up, it’s a new day dawning; It’s time to sing Your song again. Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me, Let me be singing when the evening comes. Bless the Lord, O my soul, O my soul, worship His holy Name. Sing like never before, O my soul. I’ll worship Your holy Name. You’re rich in love and You’re slow to anger, Your Name is great and Your heart is kind; For all Your goodness I will keep on singing, Ten thousand reasons for my heart to find. Bless the Lord, O my soul, O my soul, worship His holy Name. Sing like never before, O my soul. I’ll worship Your holy Name. And on that day when my strength is failing, The end draws near and my time has come; Still my soul sings Your praise unending, Ten thousand years and then forevermore. Bless the Lord, O my soul, O my soul, worship His holy Name. Sing like never before, O my soul. I’ll worship Your holy Name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, O my soul, worship His holy Name. Sing like never before, O my soul. I’ll worship Your holy Name. Joy in the Face of Adversity Philippians 4:4 – 5 “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.“ The refugees at OTC presented their stories, their songs, and their art with joy and resilience that is a true testament to hope that never fades. Their creativity and perseverance is in opposition to those who once tried to take it away. American FRRME’s Mission of Hope, Help, and Healing American Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East (American FRRME) is a U.S.-based Christian charity that aims to bring hope, help and healing in the Middle East, assisting Iraqi Christian refugees and other religious minorities. American FRRME works to support the ongoing needs of Iraqis – primarily Christian Iraqis – who fled Iraq and Kurdistan during the ISIS insurgency in 2014. The organization supports those displaced within Iraq many of whom remain living in Internally Displaced People (IDP) camps in Baghdad and northern Iraq, as well as supporting those who fled to neighboring Jordan. Working in partnership with churches in Iraq and Jordan, American FRRME is on the ground, providing food, clothing, education and more. In 2019 we established the Olive Tree Center in Madaba, Jordan. The center provides a safe and accessible place for Iraqi refugees to gather together and celebrate their culture together. Crucially, the center provides education and therapeutic activities including English classes, sewing, art and music, along with a mosaic and wood workshop and fresh produce garden.
- American FRRME | Bringing Life Back
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 ISIS invasion in 2014, this restored factory is now bringing life back to the Nineveh Plain! Before the ISIS invasion, this area was famous for its olive oil products. ISIS deliberately destroyed the ancient olive groves in the Nineveh Plain as a way of destroying livelihoods and hope in the area. This factory was completely destroyed by ISIS and was non-operational. Now this factory is functioning and is fully equipped with the necessary tools and equipment to produce olive oil products again! Restoring the factory has increased production and provided more job opportunities in this part of the Nineveh Plain. American FRRME is delighted to work with local partners to revive this industry and restore life to the Nineveh Plain. Through your donations, American FRRME will be able to help more people through our Nineveh SEED program! 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.
- American FRRME | Christian Persecution
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 of Christian believers from this area. In Syria, the Christian population has dropped from 1.7 million in 2011 to below 450,000 today; and in Iraq, the Christian population has dropped from 1.5 million before 2003 to below 120,000 today. A century ago Christians comprised 20 percent of the population in the Middle East, but since then the population has fallen to less than 4 percent. Christianity is at risk of disappearing in the Middle East. Civil wars in Syria and Iraq have caused increased persecution against the Christian population. The most extreme form of persecution, obviously, is martyrdom. Other forms of persecution include violent threats, harassment, confiscation, and attacks on churches and properties owned by Christians, imprisonment, and legal discrimination. Some Christians are given the option of conversion or death. If they’re lucky, they might simply be heavily taxed for being non-Muslim. In addition, many Christians do not attend church out of fear of attacks, such as bombings. Christian leaders in the Middle East have been subject to arrests, kidnappings, and killings. Christians face specific challenges in displacement. Many avoid entering refugee camps out of fear of targeted attacks or because they feel safer in a Christian community. Instead, they live in private homes or seek asylum in religious buildings. Not living in refugee camps restricts their access to assistance and services. Charities like the American Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East can reach these refugees by providing assistance to churches, UN camps, and non-official camps, giving humanitarian assistance and hope to Christians in the Middle East. The foundation also works closely with St. George’s Anglican Church in Baghdad to help those in need. In addition, American FRRME opened the doors to its first Olive Tree Center in Madaba, Jordan – providing a place of refuge and a community center for believers near Amman. 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 | More than Other
Iraqi Christians Deserve to be Seen as More Than “Other,” says Cardinal Louis Sako By Keely Jahns Published On June 9, 2022 Chaldean Patriarch Cardinal Louis Raphael Sako of Baghdad addressed the issues of peace and unity faced by Iraqis in an analysis sent to the organization Fides this week. The Patriarch addressed the misconceptions amongst the majority-Muslim population about Iraqi Christians. Although Christians have been present in the lands of Iraq – in the days of Jesus, Mesopotamia – long before Islam was established, their dwindling numbers have made their religion and culture into a minority in the region. But, Cardinal Sako made it clear, Christians in Iraq do not deserve to be referred to as “minorities,” which is a term that has been used to justify extreme hurt and sectarian violence against their communities. They, with their dedication and creativity, have contributed in a decisive way to the original civilization that developed in the region, and the definition that labels them as “infidels” and “polytheists” is an offense to humanity. Most Christians believe in the Holy Trinity; Father, Son, Holy Spirit, as three in one. The nature of these three distinct “persons,” of the one, Abrahamic God, is a core tenet of the faith, and a mystery that Orthodox, Catholic, and the majority of Protestant tradition dictates cannot be fully understood by the human mind within a finite lifetime. The mysterious and transcending nature of these beliefs often lends to the misconception that Christians are polytheists, especially amongst Muslims. This could not be further from the truth. Christianity is strictly monotheistic. However, this misconception has led to extreme sectarian violence, and is enforced at the social and political level, even present in the educational materials used in schools across Iraq. Christians are commonly called heretics and infidels in Iraq for their differing beliefs. Cardinal Sako points out this in his extensive analysis focused on the problems and opportunities that characterize the daily life of Iraqi Christian communities. The broad analysis was offered by the Patriarch as a contribution to start a discussion with exponents and representatives of other local ecclesial groups, in view of a possible conference dedicated to the emergencies that tire the life of Christian communities in the Middle East and jeopardize their millennial presence in that region of the world. In this piece, the Patriarch reiterated, “since the fall of the previous regime, in April 2003, a normal political life has not yet seen the light in Iraq, given the continuous failures of governments in achieving what the people need.” The Primate of the Chaldean Church also criticized the fact that Iraq’s constitution cites only Islam as the source of the nation’s governance. According to Sako, this has led to Christian communities and other faith communities to be treated as “second-class citizens.” He goes on to say: “The mentality that aims to impose a religion on consciences does not favor respect, coexistence and tolerance”. The Patriarch acknowledges that in past times even Christianity paid its pledge to this mentality, adding that now any speech that instigates discrimination, exclusion and hatred among citizens for reasons related to religious sectarianism “should be legally condemned.” In this regard, the Patriarch also criticizes the conception that identifies the various faith communities as separate ‘components’ of Iraqi society, a conception that “nourishes tribal and sectarian identities, and does not help to establish a modern nation state” founded on the principles of citizenship and equal rights. “Christians” insists Patriarch Sako “are indigenous Iraqis and are not a community from another country. They are people of this land, so it is not acceptable [for society] to label them as a ‘minority.’” Radical criticisms are reserved by the Patriarch to the so-called ‘Christian parties’, the small Iraqi political acronyms created by individual Christians and groups of the baptized who aspire to present themselves as political projections of local Christian communities. “These parties” writes Cardinal Sako “serve only to foment regional nationalisms. Consequently, they failed in the center and the region to play their real role in achieving cohesion between Christian “groups” in finding a unified name and investing their presence as one team for the benefit of Iraq and Christians in general.” Interreligious unity within Iraq seems a distant dream, but one that we hope for ardently. The refugee crisis in the Middle East is still a focal point of the work of American FRRME. With clashes between radical islamic groups, layers upon layers of political turmoil, religious difference, and a hatred of anyone deemed “other;” hundreds of thousands of innocents in the Nineveh Plain have been displaced over the last decade. The majority of those who were killed, uprooted, or displaced were Christians, but many were also Yazidi and Shabak. Regional clashes between different militias, minority groups, and facets of the Iraqi government have also recently displaced over 1,000 Yazidi families on the Nineveh Plain . In a region rife with political turmoil, the Christians, Yazidis, and Shabak of the Nineveh Plain need our help now more than ever before. The refugees who have fled their homelands in search of peaceful and stable futures, from 2014 onward, need programs to help their bodies, minds, and spirits recover from the intense trauma they have experienced. In the wake of the growing refugee crisis around the world, more programs are needed like the ones administered by American FRRME. Unfortunately, refugees are among the world’s most underserved populations. Life is not easy for Iraqi refugees. As adversity grows, programs are needed to protect the most vulnerable of these refugees. 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.