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Broken, but Not Bitter

"Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit 

who has been given to us." - Romans 5:3-5


​​The Story of the Qreshan Family

October, 2018

 

When I first met the Qreshan family from Mosul, Iraq in 2018, my heart bled from hearing their tragic story. Almost all refugees have had a very tough journey, but this family in particular shared one of the most heartbreaking we had ever heard. 


Maan, the father, began telling us their story. He was a blacksmith in his country before the war. They were a family of five. They fled Iraq because ISIS marched through their village and demanded they either convert and deny Jesus Christ, pay a yearly tax, be killed or leave their home. He said many families were in fear that ISIS would take over their villages. There had been many rumors circulating and nobody really knew the extent of what ISIS was capable of doing. They heard of kidnappings, bombings and killings, but they never thought anything like that would happen to them. As a family, they made a firm decision. If ISIS decided to attack their village, they would not deny their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. 


Maan began to choke up and could not finish. He left the room and so his wife, Ekhlas took over the rest of the story. The memory was too difficult for him to continue. You could tell that the entire family was suffering from PTSD. 


Ekhlas picked up where Maan left off. One morning, the family had gone out to the market and while there, they received a phone call from a neighbor that ISIS had just set their apartment on fire with gasoline. They had left their 23-year-old daughter at home asleep in her bed. She was trapped inside! The neighbor said that one of the men rushed into the home and rescued her out of the fire. She was severely burned. They rushed her to the hospital, called Maan and Ekhlas again and told them more of the tragedy that was unfolding. They agreed to meet at the hospital.


They got to spend the last few hours of her life with her. Before she died, this courageous young lady told her parents, “I forgive them because they don’t know what they are doing. Jesus forgives them, so I forgive them.” 


We were all in shock and in tears as we cried together with them. Maan came back into the room to show us pictures of his daughter in the hospital. It was important to him for us to see the level of cruelty and the degree of horror that ISIS committed against their family and so many others. 


It took us a while to process this as it does when we encounter these heartbreaking stories. How does a parent find strength after this? It is only by taking the humble example of their daughter, that they can do so through forgiveness. Forgiveness is the divine quality that breaks bondages and bitterness. To forgive the person who murdered your child becomes the transformational step necessary in weaving the threads of justice in very unjust circumstances. 

 

After meeting this family in 2018, we could not forget them. Though we saw the brokenness, we never saw any bitterness. We committed to praying for them. Surely the LORD would hear their cry after they lost their daughter, their home, their livelihood and their country. Surely there could be some dignity restored.


Praise God a couple of years later, they were granted immigration to Australia. Removing their file from our service distribution list and transferring it to the category of immigrated gave me such joy. Maan and Ekhlas were given a chance for a future and given hope for restoration. They are able to return to some normality after severe persecution and suffering. They will always have the memory and example of their beloved daughter and they will also have the peace of Christ because of their unwavering faith.


- By Joanne Liang, Director of Restoring Refugees, February 2024




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