His name is Jasim, and he was born in a cold, muddy refugee camp in Iraq. His parents had to flee their home on the Nineveh Plain—the same place where the prophet Jonah preached a message of repentance so long ago.
ISIS terrorists stormed through Nineveh in 2014 and seized Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq. They shelled neighbourhoods, boobytrapped houses, and even used children as human shields. Jasim’s parents were Muslims, so they were spared from the ultimatum that ISIS gave to Christians, Yazidis and others: Convert to Islam, or leave, or die. But daily life under ISIS was so hard and dangerous that they had no choice but to leave. “We had nothing to feed our children with,” his mother Heba said. “I was pregnant with Jasim and crying all the time.”
Jasim’s parents were among thousands who left behind their homes, neighbourhoods, and jobs, as they boarded buses for a sprawling tent city near the more secure city of Erbil. It was here that Jasim was born a few months later. A crowded and draughty tent is the only home he has ever known.DONATE
Samaritan’s Purse has been working with church partners in Iraq to help meet the daily needs of thousands of families forced to live in this camp and others like it. When our health workers met Jasim, he was so hungry that he had resorted to eating dirt. Heba was so traumatized by the atrocities she had experienced in Mosul that she was unable to breastfeed him. The rations they received in the camp often did not contain the nutrients that are so vital to an infant like Jasim.
Using a simple measurement of Jasim’s upper arm, our workers quickly determined that he was severely malnourished. They immediately supplied his mother with packets of nutritional peanut-based food supplements designed especially for infants. They taught Heba how to care for him, and they followed up regularly to monitor his progress. In a matter of weeks, Jasim started to gain weight and sleep better.
As we look forward to Christmas, some of the details of Jasim’s story may sound familiar to us. Mary gave birth to Jesus in the lowliest of circumstances. “And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7, ESV). His family had to run for their lives to escape a bloodthirsty ruler, “for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him” (Matthew 2:13). Meanwhile, compassionate strangers helped provide for little Jesus through the gifts they brought. “For we saw His star when it rose and have come to worship Him” (Matthew 2:2).
But there are multitudes like Jasim’s family who have never heard the wonderful story of how the Son of God “became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). At Samaritan’s Purse, it is our mission to lift up Jesus Christ through everything we do. Even in challenging places like Iraq, dealing with non-Christian families like Jasim’s, God uses our work to open doors for us to demonstrate His love and share the Gospel.
We want everyone we help to understand that the only way we can have eternal life is through repentance of our sins and faith in Christ alone. As Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
In the camp where Jasim lives, Samaritan’s Purse has distributed over a thousand infant care boxes in the past year, while helping mothers nurse 3,000 malnourished babies and toddlers back to health. Now that ISIS has been defeated, we are also working to help hundreds of displaced families repair their war-scarred houses so they can finally leave the camps and return home.
As God provides, will you send a gift of £10, £20 or even £150 to Samaritan’s Purse today to help provide vital care for vulnerable newborns and malnourished toddlers like Jasim?
This Christmas, we want people around the world to join us in celebrating the birth of our Lord and Saviour. “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11).