A white cloud is rising over this part of Mosul.
We’re at a warehouse inside the Mosul city limits, just a few miles from the front lines. Trucks are parked out front, but I can barely see them through the white haze. Our eyes are burning from it. People are coughing because of it.
But everyone is thrilled by it.
This week, hundreds of Christians in northern Iraq celebrated Christmas in their own churches, for the first time in years.
Back in 2014, ISIS swept across the Nineveh plains, capturing town after town—including some of the oldest Christian communities in the world. ISIS persecution targeted Christians, Yazidis, Muslims, and others. No one was safe.
“I don’t care if mortars are falling all around us. We are getting these families food.”
That’s what we told the delivery team lead on our last trip to Mosul. After everything we’ve seen in Iraq and Syria over the past few years, there isn’t a lot that shocks us anymore.
But the living conditions of the families in this school, just a few miles from ISIS, did. I’d never seen anything like this, not after nearly six years of living and working in Iraq.
At Christmas, we tell the story of a Middle Eastern refugee who was born in a stable, whose family was then driven from their home by violence.
But we don’t just tell this story. We are seeing it play out again before our eyes.
On the outskirts of Mosul the other day, in a town just liberated from ISIS, we met thousands of Middle Eastern refugees… and we met them in a stable.
Around here, a building this red stands out.
Run a hand over the wall, and your fingers brush against bullet holes.
"ISIS, they used this place to make bombs. Small bombs."
Last week was an exciting, gut-wrenching, sometimes heartbreaking week. We began providing emergency food rations to people near Aleppo. A hospital in Libya—where, just two weeks earlier our team provided lifesaving heart surgeries for kids—was bombed. And we went to the literal front lines of Mosul.
Thousands of people will eat tonight because of your giving and the work of our delivery teams. But making it happen wasn’t easy.
Around 7:00 this morning, our team headed west toward Mosul—two large semi trucks with food and other essentials and several small cars. We stopped for finalize a few plans and make some phone calls. Everything was prepared. Families were waiting.
We made it through each checkpoint and ultimately arrived in the small Mosul suburb. We were inside the Mosul front lines—so close, you could walk to the city itself.