Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | July 10, 2017

The Barber from Kirkuk

Amman, Jordan

The world has become the stage on which the sad stories of ISIS continue to play. The Islamic State is quick to take ownership of worldwide acts of terror — especially the kind that are so sensational they cannot be ignored. But, for every story that major media outlets cover, there are hundreds of others that the world will never hear about.

In the short period that the Islamic State has dominated the world stage, they have forever altered the lives of millions. Their ideology of violence is fueled by a theology of hate and intolerance. Their definition of infidel is so broad that even Muslims who are not like them are not safe. They have shown no regard for ancient sites that belong to the world or people who deserve to live without fear in the world.

This week I met a family of Iraqi Christians who had to flee their beautiful home in Kirkuk, a town in northern Iraq, when ISIS rolled into town. Their lives will never be the same. The UNHCR ultimately relocated some siblings to America and others to Australia while their aging and grieving parents are struggling to survive in Jordan. They will never again gather as a family in one place.

This month, more family members arrived from Kirkuk. The young father I met owned his own small business — a barber shop. He shared that as his business had grown he had hired two additional barbers to work in his shop. He made enough money to support his own family and to help two others support theirs. He and his family were happy.

And then, the Islamic State showed up and the threats started — convert, pay a burdensome tax, or leave under threat of death. To make sure the family understood the seriousness of their threats, ISIS left an envelope on their doorstep containing a bullet and a hand-scrawled message that simply read, “You are next.”

When the young barber showed up at his shop, he found that ISIS had trashed it. Everything was destroyed. His equipment, certificates, chairs, mirrors. He returned home, packed whatever belongings he could carry with him, and fled with his wife and young son and a small bag of barber supplies. He eventually found his parents who have temporarily resettled in Amman.

This young man was not looking for or expecting a handout. What he wants is a hand up to help him start his journey toward a new life. He has received some assurances from the UNHCR that they will be allowed to join a sister who resettled in Australia. He dreams of moving there soon and opening a new barbershop to support his family.

We invited him to join us at the place where we are staying in Amman to give haircuts to our team of fifty. This afternoon, half our team waited in line for haircuts and generously paid him for his services. He made enough money today to cover his rent for a month. Tomorrow, he will return to give haircuts to the rest of our team. He was so happy to work for his rent.

At the end of their day I met with him, thanked him for his services, and assured him of our prayers. I told him that my deepest hope is that God will open a door of opportunity for him to resettle in a place where he and his family can start anew — and where he can open a new barbershop. I have every expectation that God will indeed bless him and honor his desire to work and care for his family.

While the Islamic State continues its agenda of death and destruction, the barber from Kirkuk is charting a new course. What ISIS meant for evil God will turn into good for this man and his family. Of that I am confident.


Responses

  1. Omar,
    Thanks so much for sharing this. If you don’t write these stories then the world will never hear them.

    • You’re welcome, Gil. I do feel a sense of stewardship when it comes to the stories I hear. I pray that those who read them will think deeply, pray often, and live wisely.

  2. Omar,
    We are blessed to live in a country where we are safe! As, I read your blog, my heart was so saddened for this family and I know there are so many more. I appreciate you sharing what you witness and information you gain as you travel. It does cause people like me to remember to be grateful daily for the life we have and to pray for these families that are enduring so much daily! We keep you and your team in prayer as you are traveling and witnessing to so many!!

    In Christian Love,
    Cindie

    • Thanks for your prayers for our team and for the refugees, Cindie. So grateful to be here with our students to serve them.


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