We recently decided that after we finish language school, our family will join a brand new church planting team launching in southern Iraq. On a recent vision trip to the area, we encountered remarkable answers to prayer and wonderful encouragement from our Father.
Standing on a rooftop looking out at a flat, brown city of millions thinking about the small number of believers among them, all I could do was ask God, “How?” In the face of such odds, all strategy seems to fall short. I can easily see the “what”—the multitudes worshipping Jesus in Revelation will include Iraqis. But how? All I knew to do was worship God. The song I sang in that moment included the line: “Nothing has the power to save but Your name.” And it sunk in once again—we see the what, we strategize the how, but above all, we serve the Who! Jesus is the One who wants this the most; He is the One who shed blood for Iraqis; and He is the One who will turn such a desert city into an oasis of truth.
We found a school that would be a great option for our boys. The school has a great teaching philosophy, modern curriculum, and clean facilities. This place was definitely an answer to prayer. Finding adequate schooling for our kids was a big component in the process of discerning our next location.
My initial reaction to the city was heart-sinking hesitance. It was so dirty and stinky, and I couldn’t stop asking myself, “Would my boys hate it here? Could living here actually be possible?” The first night, I processed the day with my husband, and I remembered a John Piper sermon I heard recently in which he described the remarkable capacity humans have for directing one’s mind from one thing to something else. He tied the idea to the verse in Romans telling us to set our minds on things of the Spirit rather than the things of the flesh. When I woke up the next morning, I began to see the city through the eyes of Jesus. As my heart broke with God’s, I told the Lord, “If here is where You want us, I will gladly live here, Lord, stench and all.”
We sat in on classes at the English center where we’ve been invited to teach, explored the city, and connected with local believers. During our time praying through the city and worshiping and fellowshipping with believers there, God reminded us more than once that what we think is impossible IS POSSIBLE.
Knowing God makes the impossible possible, southern Iraq will be reached by Him using both the preachers and senders of Romans 10: “For how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent?” As senders, pray for these preachers of the new church planting team launching in southern Iraq. The work will not be easy, but it will be possible in Him.