Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | October 27, 2008

Field of Death

A Page from My Journal
Kurdistan • October 26, 2008

   Prior to coming here, Harmoda was just another name on the map of Iraq, one among the many centuries-old names marking a place far from where I live. Our journey brought us to this particular place because just outside its cluster of colorless homes there is a colony of Kurdish refugees from Iran. We are here to connect with this tiny slice of hurting humanity — people swept onto this rocky shore by winds of conflict and waves of rejection. They have been marooned here for years but have learned how to survive.

   Today, Harmoda became more than a name on the map of Iraq. It became a name that is now engraved on the geography of my heart. The cartographer was an elderly Kurdish gentleman who spoke excellent English with a sophisticated accent, smoked lots of cigarettes, and whose belief in God had long since been evicted from his heart. The violent history of this place is tightly woven into the fabric of his life. It’s as if all that has happened to the generations that have lived and died here has happened to him.

   “Do you know what Harmoda means?” he asked. Without hesitation, he continued. “It means field of death.” He pointed to the mountains in the distance as he recounted that 50,000 people had once called this place home — until Muslim invaders descended from those mountains and slaughtered the masses. Since that time this place has been called the field of death. Thinking this slaughter had occurred in recent history, he clarified that it happened 1,400 years ago. Because of that brutal massacre, death is still memorialized in the name of this blood-stained piece of geography.

   Later in the day, another man recounted something that Saddam Hussein’s forces had done here in 1988. Pain mixed with anger accented his words. “Saddam took two Kurdish men,” he said. “Then, he placed them in large sacks, took them up in a helicopter, and pushed them to their deaths.” The field of death received Saddam’s violent offering and drank the blood of these two helpless men, and one more page was added to the community’s thick volume of violence.

   As I thought about the field of death throughout this day, I reflected on what Jesus said to His disciples about another field. “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field” (Matthew 9:38). The Lord is looking for those who will sow the seeds of life in terrible places like the field of death. That’s what we are here to do. Perhaps you can take a moment to find Harmoda on your map. You might be surprised to find that it’s closer to you than you think. Then, allow the Lord of the harvest to use you to sow seeds of life in fields of death.


  1. My heart bleeds as I look out on so many fields where people are trying to succeed on their own, or where they have lost hope as victims of their environment. I pray daily that I will seize the opportunites God continually places before me including the ones that I think I am too busy to address, rationalize away, or put on the back burner. The Lord has given each of us a realm of influence for the season that we are in. May He find us continually, or at the least, progressively, faithful and obedient as we all travel our journey. Thank you for your inspiration, O! Prayers be with you.

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