The US has now acknowledged the financial plight of persecuted Christian communities and is willing to make available financial assistance, according to the International Director of the Barnabas Fund, Reverend Canon Dr Patrick Sookhdeo.
Speaking at an official assembly at St Hurmizd Assyrian Primary School, Sydney, on 23 November, Rev. Sookhdeo outlined the dedicated work currently in progress by the Barnabas Fund, an interdenominational Christian aid agency serving persecuted Christians in more than 60 countries.
Addressing His Beatitude Mar Meelis Zaia, Archbishop of the Diocese of Australia, New Zealand and Lebanon, as well as members of the clergy, teachers and students, Rev. Sookhdeo acknowledged that the Barnabas Fund must now seek security guarantees for the church in Iraq following a recent spate of attacks against the nation’s Christians.
”The good thing is that the international community has at last recognised the needs of Iraqi Christians – their plight, their dangers – and are now seeking to be informed,” said Rev. Sookhdeo.
Outlining the Iraqi church leaders’ delegation to the US capital, Washington DC, last July, Rev. Sookhdeo said the group was privileged to meet the most senior members of President Barack Obama’s administration.
“Your church was represented through your Archbishop and he together with Archbishops of other churches in Iraq sent a letter to President Obama saying: the US broke the land of Iraq, it broke our church, therefore you have a duty and a responsibility to fix it,” said Rev. Sookhdeo.
The delegation was met with kindness, understanding and with an acknowledgement of US responsibility for the current situation facing Christians in Iraq.
“The result of those meetings, which included having dinner with the Iraqi Ambassador, resulted in the US stating publicly that the Iraqi Government must ensure full security provisions for all the Christians in Iraq.”
“As things sadly deteriorate in many parts of Iraq, we very much hope for at least the possibility of security, the possibility of a homeland and the possibility of humanitarian assistance and finally the possibility now to assist the Iraqi Christians refugees outside Iraq.
“Currently, the Iraq church leaders are meeting and what we are planning to do is assist them. Their need is to have some form of organisation with a communication officer that can make known their needs.
Thanking the Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East for its kindness, generosity and graciousness, Rev. Sookhdeo asked students to join with him in prayer that Iraq’s Christians may be free from persecution.
“It is our privilege to assist the church whenever she is found in need – and in particular to work alongside the Assyrian Church of the East, your ancient church.
”Never, ever give up. Your church throughout history has never given up with all the struggles she has faced. She has been scattered throughout the world and you represent a whole new generation – always think of hope. Because hope is rooted in the resurrection; in faith in our Lord Jesus Christ and we must continue always in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.”
Welcoming the Barnabas Fund delegation to Sydney, His Beatitude Mar Meelis Zaia presented Rev. Sookhdeo with the Holy Gospel in Aramaic. Called the ‘Evangaleon’, it is an extract of the New Testament used by the Assyrian Church of the East on a daily basis, in liturgy on Sundays and special feasts.
Showing the appreciation of the Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East towards the Barnabas Fund, His Beatitude with Rev. Sookhdeo also unveiled a plaque dedicating a classroom at St Hurmizd Assyrian Primary School to the Barnabas Fund, in honour of their generous contribution in aiding the persecuted Assyrian community in the Middle East.
“Barnabas Fund is well known among the Assyrians in the Middle East for their charity and assistance toward the Christian Refugees of Iraq,” said His Beatitude in his assembly address.
“I have personally, as former Chairman of the Assyrian Church of the East Relief Organisation and Secretary of the Holy Synod, witnessed their unceasing efforts in providing continuous help to the Christian Refugees of Iraq who have been stranded in Syria, Jordan and Lebanon since 1991.
“I vividly remember when we met in Damascus a few years ago, where I saw firsthand, just how much love and compassion this organisation had toward these refugees, regardless of their affiliation or background. Their assistance went beyond the status of refugees, and included providing help to the clergy of Iraq in the aim of securing a decent accommodation for them as well as income assistance for the provision of their faithful in such difficult socio-economic circumstances.”
His Beatitude highlighted the Barnabas Fund’s spiritual, social and moral support to the faithful in the midst of a deteriorating security situation in certain parts of Iraq, as well as financial assistance to the refugees of Syria, Jordan and Lebanon.
In particular, His Beatitude praised the Barnabas Fund’s assistance in building a brand new school for the Church in Qamishle – Syria, the school of Faris Alkhoore, of which Barnabas Fund is considered the main and almost the largest financial provider for the project.
Additionally, the new residential project in Duhok, Northern Iraq was noted as another example of Barnabas Fund’s unceasing efforts. The new apartment complexes, the pride of the Assyrian Church of the East Relief Organisation (ACERO), will provide a comfortable and secure shelter to many needy people, and give housing to Assyrian Christian families with little or no income at all and who are desperate for accommodation.
“I would like to sincerely thank you for your work and assistance, I pray that our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ continue to bless you and keep you in His loving-kindness that you may further be able to reach out to so many who are still suffering in the Middle East, especially at these difficult times where Christians are facing almost a hidden genocide and terror on daily basis by the evil deeds of radical Islam,” said His Beatitude.[nggallery id=101]