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ISIS Tried to Destroy This Church... But What We Saw Inside Took Our Breath Away

“Matthew… come now, come here!”

Waleed’s usually stoic face was bent upward and clearly excited. A devout Muslim, Waleed worked for years as a soldier with special forces, and he has the sorrow and stories to prove it. He is more than qualified to work as a security specialist on our front-line deliveries. But now, standing there with that big grin on his scarred face, he looked more like a little kid.

Seeing his smile made me angry.

When the Violence Breaks You

Abdul Bassit after surviving an explosion in Syria that took both his legs (Twitter)

There is a video of an 8-year-old boy in Syria lying on the ground, moments after an alleged airstrike. His legs are gone, blown off at the knees.  

His mother is dead. His sister is dead.

I watched yesterday… and as shocking as it was, I could almost handle it. Until he started crying, “Pick me up, daddy. Pick me up.”

A Look Inside the Aleppo Kitchen Where You are Feeding Thousands

At this point, there are few people on earth who don’t know there’s a crisis in Syria.

Swipe your screen for a front row seat to years of Syrian families running, wailing, suffering. Then, when it surely couldn’t get worse, the crisis reached a horrible apex: hundreds of thousands fled a burning Aleppo, and the world seemed to wake up—if just for a few minutes—to the fact that “their” crisis “over there” is somehow ours, too.

“We Must Teach Our Children to Hate Weapons” - One Mosul Father’s Plea

“Most of the children, when ISIS ruled, they loved weapons. They saw weapons. We saw too many kids carrying weapons. It’s heartbreaking, believe me.”

As I listened to this man, sipping tea in his home deep inside Mosul, gunfire and falling bombs in the background, I remember the sounds around me more than anything. The sofa creaked, tiny spoons clinked against teacups, and the unsettling thunder of war a few blocks away.

Bringing Peace and Healing to Families' Hearts

Every mama’s heart aches when her child is sick. It’s so hard to see them suffer and not know what’s going on, or how to help.

For some mamas, it’s extra hard. When Yossef came down with the flu at two months old, he was taken to see a doctor in Iraq. The doctor diagnosed not only the flu but something much more concerning—there was a serious problem with his heart.

They Can't Escape Mosul, So Your Love Is Reaching Them

If you’ve been with us awhile, chances are you’ve read those words before: you just provided food for thousands of families on the front lines!

And it’s true, you did.

Families in Aleppo, Fallujah, and Mosul are dining today because you helped cover the bill. You heard them, came alongside them in their suffering, you gave—and our teams used that money to buy aid in bulk, load trucks, slog through checkpoints, and then deliver that food to thousands of families.

It’s exciting, right?

But what about when it isn’t?

The Girl Who Escaped Death Twice

Jobs disappeared.

That’s what drove Yaqin’s family from Mosul, Iraq. It was 2014 and the early days of ISIS in the city. Life was beginning to get difficult—the rules for living changed, tightened, but it was still manageable, except for the fact that paid work became scarce. Yaqin’s father couldn’t support his family, so they made the decision to leave.

It was a decision that saved Yaqin’s life.

4 Things You Should Know About Refugees and Terrorism

The debate over refugees is showing no signs of letting up.

This week, the courts temporarily suspended President Trump’s executive order, while the White House mulled a range of options, from a Supreme Court challenge to writing a new order. In these situations, it can be so easy to talk past one another. But the reality is that the issues are often more nuanced—and far more complex—than sound bites and 140-character limits allow for.

ISIS Attacks Kill 9 in Mosul Neighborhoods Where You're Providing Food and Medical Care

Iraqi soldier in eastern Mosul, near a medical clinic you're helping refurbish. Today, ISIS launched suicide attacks in this part of the city.

From Rudaw Media Network: 

Two suicide bombings have struck the left bank [eastern side] of Mosul, killing at least nine, including an Iraqi army officer, and injuring others, an intelligence source with the Iraqi army told Rudaw.

The Uncomfortable, Controversial Reality of Loving Across Enemy Lines

It's no secret that the U.S. is extraordinarily divided at this moment in history and that many of us wish for greater unity. But lately, there seems to be a rash of people calling for unity while using inflammatory language about those who disagree with them.

And it made me wonder: Do we really want unity? Or do we just want everyone to agree with us?

Because unity doesn’t require agreement.

From Heart Surgery Patient to Future Pilot: Falah's Story

This week is Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week. In addition to serving refugees on the front lines of conflict, you've helped provide lifesaving cardiac care for hundreds kids in Iraq, Libya, and other countries—kids who have no other way of getting the care they need. Recently, your love showed up in southern Iraq for kids like Falah. 

When Falah closes his eyes, he sees himself high above the clouds, in the cockpit of a fighter jet. When he imagines his future self, he is a pilot who helps to defend his country from the forces which seek to destroy.

But the last time we met Falah, he was lying in a hospital bed, recovering from the surgery that saved his life.

Opening a Conversation With President Trump About the Refugee Crisis

Today, I joined other social entrepreneurs like Aria Finger (DoSomething), Scott Harrison (charity: water), Jay Herrati (TEDx), Jeff Skoll (eBay, The Jeff Skoll Group), Premal Shah (Kiva), and dozens more to open a dialogue with President Trump about refugees, immigrants, and his recent executive order, now being challenged in the courts.

Leaning In

Leaning in—this is the common posture we see in every hospital where we work. There are always parents leaning in toward their children, either out of concern or the desire to comfort. But just as often we see doctors and nurses leaning in toward patients, giving lifesaving care. We see our international medical team and local teams leaning in toward each other, sharing crucial techniques and skills.

''Letting My Mom Into America Is in the National Interest''

Mousa Mosawy, a 24-year-old law student from Iraq. This photo by Adam DeTour originally appeared in the Boston College Law School Magazine.

“I got a phone call from my mom. She said she could no longer come and see me.”

Mousa al Mosawy, 24, is in his second year of law school at Boston College. He’s an avid fan of the U.S. Constitution. And he is unsure of his future after President Trump’s executive order halting immigration to the U.S. from his home country of Iraq.

Bringing preemptive love into your everyday

“Your team is doing the hard work. I’m just here at home writing you a check.”

I hear this on repeat from you—our amazing donors and peacemakers. And if I could leap through the phone and hug you, I would.

Because your work is grueling too. You live day-in and day-out in a hurting world while holding onto, and living out, this crazy idea that love can actually remake our world. 

President Trump's Refugee Order: 5 Things to Know

President Trump’s executive order on immigration and refugee resettlement has already been called a “defining moment.” It has further polarized people in the United States—leading to protests at airports and heated arguments on Facebook. And it’s had repercussions around the world. 

These are not easy conversations to have. But wherever you are on this, there is space for you at the table. 

Restoring Hope to 5-Year-Old Shepherd Boys on the Edge of ISIS

This month, we’re serving hundreds of families in a remote area west of Mosul. They are caught up in the fight against ISIS in a part of Iraq controlled mainly by Shia militias. No other organizations have been able to reach these families, not even the UN. But you lean into the hard places, for families like these…

Ali, 5 years old, is a shepherd. He’s fantastic with animals.

"I loved those animals and considered them my friends," Ali explained. He is so attached to them, he gave them each names like “Blacky” and “Spots.”

Ali and his family are displaced because of the war with ISIS. Right now, they live in an old, abandoned village west of Mosul. They are in a terrible situation because the village is without access to food and clean water. There is nothing for people or their animals to eat, except for food that the local soldiers—part of the Shia militias who control this area—share out of their own rations.

Unlearning the Lessons of ISIS

While some debate whether it's "safe" to welcome refugees, you're showing up to serve hundreds of displaced families in a remote part of Iraq. They're caught in the fight against ISIS in an area controlled mainly by Shia militias. No other organizations have been able to reach these families, not even the UN. But you lean into the hard places, for kids like Wya'am. This is her story.

The Radical Hospitality of Refugees

“Uncle, please come and have lunch with us!”

Most parents wonder if what they teach their children is sinking in, if the values they try to model are becoming part of their character.

Zahra’a’s parents don’t have to wonder. The first thing she did when her family received their packet of relief aid—the first aid they’d received in three years of displacement and conflict—was to turn to our staff member, whom she’d never met before, and invite him to lunch.

The Gifts of Presence and Provision

This month, we’re serving hundreds of families in a remote area west of Mosul. They are caught up in the fight against ISIS in a part of Iraq controlled mainly by Shia militias. No other organizations have been able to reach these families, not even the UN. But you lean into the hard places, for families like these…

Abu Haythem and Abu Abdallah used to be some of the richest men around, though you’d never guess that if you’d met them in the line of men receiving relief aid, here in this remote part of Iraq. Humble, traditional, and tribal, they live the same migratory, shepherd lifestyle as their ancestors. They have a reputation for respecting all, regardless of a person’s faith.

Their wealth and status were tied up in their vast herds of livestock—sheep, cattle, and camels.  

But the war with ISIS, their ensuing displacement, and the abrupt end to their traditional lifestyle stripped those things away.

Read the blog at Preemptive Love Coalition
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