Aiesha, her husband Rafi, their two young boys and Rida, Aiesha’s mother, are Christian refugees from Iraq who escaped ISIS and fled to Jordan for refuge.
Threats kept coming until one day they were given the option to either leave Mosul, convert to Islam, or pay a ransom. The family fled, abandoning their house and personal belongings in the middle of the night.
They knew they were in great danger but still trusted the Lord to protect them and guide them to safety.
Their departure was nothing short of traumatic. The sound of bombs and women screaming in the streets echoed from all around. To this day, one of Aiesha’s sons cannot handle loud voices.
Traffic was jammed. A trip that typically took 20 minutes lasted 5 hours. At the time, Aiesha’s father, Abel, was travelling with them. Abel suffered a stroke and was in a wheelchair a few years before they left home for Jordan. ISIS stopped their car and made them get out. They had to beg to let them take the wheelchair for Rafi’s father.
The family had no choice but to leave their car behind. They journeyed on through the dark streets along with many other terrified families. None were sure of their destination.
They found refuge in a church hall. The women slept in student dorms on the floor for months, waiting with no privacy and little food until the family received enough support to escape Jordan.
The Jordanian community welcomed the Iraqi refugees with open hands and warm hearts. After the church, they moved to a motel, and from the motel, they moved into an abandoned home.
With the money they had left, they offered to pay for the electricity and water as a first step. The house was dilapidated, and the walls and floor mouldy. It was filthy. As a husband, father and son, Rafi felt humiliated and heartbroken by the unhealthy living conditions his family would endure.
They decided to clean the house, knowing that the children needed a stable home at least for a short while until they figured out their next steps. So, with the help of some good people that God sent, the walls were cleaned, mould removed, rooms painted, and the house furnished with essential items.
Aiesha and Rida did their best to add warm touches to make the house feel like home for the children while they were there. Rida shared, “I used to live in a big house in Iraq. We had newly renovated our house, and we had nice things. I used to have a beautiful garden I planted with my own hands. But now our house is destroyed by people who hate us. Our neighbours sent us the pictures after the explosion. So now I need to create a nice place for my family and grandchildren.”
Shortly after the move, Aiesha’s father suffered another stroke. The family had no money to take him to the hospital, and he passed away.
Looking back, they believe the stress and shame he felt as a refugee, totally dependent on handouts, contributed to the stroke. Rida had a tough time accepting that her soulmate was gone, that she had lost her home in Iraq, all her friends. She felt as though she lost her identity.
Rida nearly took her life because of the pain and loss she had endured. By God’s grace, she learned about trauma workshops held by our local partner in Jordan.
Our local partner in Jordan shared, “We are grateful to God that we were able to provide support at the right time. Rida decided to give life another chance.”
Aiesha and Rida registered themselves for everything from trauma workshops to English classes, sewing lessons, and cosmetology courses. While they attended, the boys went to art therapy sessions which significantly reduced their post-trauma symptoms. As a result, they are both beginning to communicate and socialize with other children their age.
Rafi shared, “I just need to travel to a country where my family is safe, and we can live happily, work, and guarantee a good education for my kids.” And Aiesha shared, “This opportunity will help us live a new life with no fear, no sadness, and new hope.”
Today, Aiesha, Rafi, Rida, and the boys have not yet reached their final destination. But, with the help of our local partners, they are healing from their trauma. They find glimpses of joy and fellowship with other followers of Jesus who have also been forced to flee from home. Their journey is not over, and their family is one of the millions of refugee families in the world today.
This World Refugee Day, join us in prayer and support for the millions of displaced people and refugees.
“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.” Matthew 25:35