September 2, 2014
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP) -- Life-saving relief supplies are being delivered to Iraqi Christians and other minorities forcibly displaced in northern Iraq by radical ISIS Islamists.

Many of these families have gone for three weeks with little to eat, said Abraham,* who leads work in the Middle East for Baptist Global Response (BGR). He reports these persecuted Christians believe they are facing extinction and worry Christians in the West do not know of their suffering.

"We entered this one camp, and they said, 'So far we are just eating rice and some watery tomato soup. We have only had meat once. A guy came and he gave us some chicken. Just for a day,'" Abraham said.

"It touched my heart, to know we could provide some good healthy nutrition for these people," he added. "It brought joy to their hearts for us to bring beans and other food. Just to make them feel they are normal and loved."

Many of these families were urban professionals who ran businesses and owned homes. When violence reached their majority-Christian neighborhood, however, they had only minutes to flee. An estimated 60,000 people left in the space of a few hours, most with only the clothes on their backs.

Several families pooled their resources and managed to rent an apartment, Abraham said. Eight families shared two floors of an unfinished house.

"We entered this place, and it's totally empty. It's just a floor and concrete walls," he said. "To look at these children, to look in the eyes of a defeated father who cannot provide for his family, the least we could do was we bought carpet so it can be a little more comfortable for them than sleeping on the floor. Pillows. Blankets. Basic things."

Baptist Global Response has been providing relief to refugees and displaced families throughout the Middle East for years now, Abraham said. But the ISIS advance across northern Iraq has compounded one crisis with another.

"That makes it more tragic, in a sense, but at the same time it helps us because we already have work, we already have projects on the ground, to pool our efforts together, to pool our teams together," he said. "Now some of our national team members are forcibly displaced themselves, becoming victims of the crisis as well."

BGR is drawing on resources provided by Global Hunger Relief (GHR) to provide food, water, baby formula, propane burners and temporary shelter. They also have been helping families obtain cooling units to provide relief from scorching summer heat.

"The heat is suffocating. The temperature is in the hundreds and it's a dusty environment. So you can see a baby, 25 days old, they cannot endure this," Abraham said. "So we try to have a water cooling system to help them in their own tent." Read More
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