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Isaiah 19 Highway

Prayer Campaign

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15 Feb 2016
Isaiah 19 Highway

When the Arab Spring began in 2011, no one expected the changes that we are now witnessing in the Middle East. Generally speaking, revolutions are not difficult to start; finding people who are dissatisfied with the current state of affairs, specifically in this region, is not a problem. When the current uprising in Syria started, people were fairly certain that conflict would not end any time soon. However no one expected that over half of the population of this nation of 17 million would be displaced and more than 200,000 killed.

With the rise of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria ancient Christian communities in and around Mosul in northern Iraq (ancient Nineveh) and those in northeast Syria were forced to flee to southeast Turkey and into Iraqi Kurdistan. When a key battle took place between Syrian Kurds and Islamic State forces in 2014, people displaced from Kobane also joined these refugees. This increased the already large number of refugees in Turkey to almost 2 million since the outbreak of the Syrian Civil war.

In short, the Middle East has not seen this scale of refugee crisis since the First World War, which interestingly enough is part of the reason we are in this situation today. Understanding what happened in WWI is essential to understanding why the Middle East is in upheaval today.

Nevertheless, followers of Jesus who are serving God in the midst of the refugee crisis have an unprecedented opportunity to reach those in greatest need of hope with messages of the Messiah’s grace and truth, unlike any time in the last 100 years. The situation, humanly speaking, is hopeless and the tragedy, overwhelming. But it is precisely during these times of darkness that the light shines brightest (John 1:5).

Many Bible readers are now taking encouragement from a portion of scripture in the book of Isaiah, specifically chapter 19, where God speaks of a highway of worship and reconciliation that encompasses people who were formerly enemies but were becoming a “blessing in the midst of the earth” (Is. 19:24). During 2014-2015 teams of young people from Israel and the nations have traveled this “ancient highway” to provide aid to the refugees, encourage long-term Christian workers serving in the region, and support local churches with a message of hope, especially for those living in the shadow of death.

In subsequent ministry trips to the Kobani region in southeastern Turkey, teams bringing aid also led discipleship schools for Kurdish women displaced by the war. This was accomplished by partnering with local Kurdish believers who also serve other refugees. Two new churches have been established in the city of Suruc, made up of mostly young people of Muslim background. Other teams traveled to Iraqi Kurdistan to bring aid to Yazidi refugees displaced from Sincar Mountain and living in camps in the Dohuk region.

Our ongoing relationship with a focused group serving out of Israel to these nations, called ‘Derech Avraham’ (Abraham’s Journey), has allowed us at the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem to meet with Christian and governmental leaders from these regions to pray for and support them during this time.


Here are some practical points to guide your prayer group:

1.   Jesus taught that in the end of days the wheat and weeds would grow together, signaling a time of both tremendous evil and a promised harvest. As a result, it is important that we pray according to Scripture for“the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Matt. 9:38). It is a simple prayer, but one of great importance at this time.

2.   Pray also for protection and boldness for both the local Christian leaders and the international Christian workers, as well as the entire Christian communities in southeast Turkey and northern Iraq. The needs are overwhelming and reaching out in love to these refugees is a fulltime job. We hear daily testimonies of Muslims coming to faith in Jesus, but it doesn’t end there; they need to be discipled in their faith.

3.   Winter is the most crucial time to pray for the refugees in both southeastern Turkey and northern Iraq. Many of them live in abandoned buildings, temporary shelters or even tents, none of which are suitable housing in winter, which can also be very harsh in this region. Pray for the aid to reach these camps in time.

4.   Finally, the sense of hopelessness is pervasive, especially with the Islamic State forces advancing as close to some of these camps as 20-30 kilometers (about 15 miles). When both Turkey and Russia joined the conflict, the situation became even more complicated. As a result, massive numbers of the refugee population began to flee to Europe. Pray that God would meet them either on the way or in their host countries in the West.