Some days it feels like death is all around.
Over the past year, you've met families who risked death to escape ISIS-held cities like Fallujah and Ramadi. They were shot at by ISIS snipers. Their loved ones were blown apart by landmines. Those who escaped found themselves in desert camps with nothing. Not even a tent.
You've met children so traumatized by war they couldn’t even say their name.
Your love has sent us to the very edge of Mosul—bodies pressing against our aid trucks, faces lined with desperation, the kind that comes from enduring years of ISIS terror and weeks of starvation.
While there, we met mothers who begged us to take their children, convinced there was no future left to offer them but death.
You've wept with us over mass graves in northern Iraq, filled with the remains of our beloved Yazidi friends who were brutally murdered by ISIS.
Yet in each place where the ground is literally soaked with death, we see new life pushing through.
You can see it in the faces of those same desperate parents, all around Mosul—determined to get the help they need, still fighting for their children, the fire still in their eyes.
You can see it in places that were desecrated by ISIS—warehouses that were used to make bombs, schools used to warp children’s minds with hate. Your love is reclaiming and redeeming these broken places, one by one.
You can see it in the eyes of a young girl we met last week, whose greatest hope—now that ISIS has been driven from her village—is that she’ll be able to go to school again.
You can see it in the faces of those returning home to Fallujah and Sinjar and Ramadi after their liberation from ISIS.
You can see it in the eyes of our refugee friends who—whether it’s through making soap or tending sheep or sewing garments—have reclaimed part of their identity. Even now, they are breathing new life into their families.
You can see at the foot of Mount Sinjar in northern Iraq, amid the mass graves—Iraq’s new holy ground—flowers pushing through the visible reminders of death. Slowly, life is returning to villages that dot the mountainside.
Every time you show up with chickens to give nourishment, medical care to give wholeness, building materials to give children another chance at education—you can see it. New life springing up. In every face we meet, every family you feed, every mother or father you empower—we see yet another reminder that life will not be denied.
We see the death. We do not deny or look past it. ISIS is far from finished. The troubles in Iraq and Syria are far from over. Some days, it feels like it might never end.
But there is another story here. There is life pushing through. Life refusing to give up, refusing to give violence and hate the last word.
That’s what is driving us into the year ahead. To see beyond death. Beyond ISIS. Beyond desperation and despair.
You, us, our friends in Syria and Iraq... we are here to bring new life.
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