Why I Spent Mothers’ Day in Mosul, Iraq #1

“My dad, my brother, and my husband were all killed by ISIS.”

At fifteen she got married. At eighteen she was a widow, the mother of an infant, and caretaker for her widowed mother.

For two and a half years she’d lived under ISIS control in east Mosul, Iraq. When her community was freed from ISIS in November 2016, a new future opened up to her. But what kind of future awaited a traumatized and grieving teenage mother in a neighborhood wrecked by war?

Fortunately, my friends at Preemptive Love Coalition (PLC) saw beyond her external situation to the resilient spirit inside her. They provided funding for her to open a small cosmetics shop.

Bullet holes still marked the facades of nearby buildings. Crumbled concrete and twisted metal left by months of shelling was still being cleared away.

But on the May day on which I visited the cosmetics shop, the streets were filled with shoppers and business was booming.

After years of brutal oppression, the civilians of east Mosul were eager to return to the life they’d known before ISIS.

And a young shopkeeper—along with her mother and her child—were looking with hope toward the future.

Check here for information on how you can join the Preemptive Love Coalition in empowering other women impacted by war in Iraq and Syria.

Currently PLC and their local partners are helping men and women in Mosul establish bakeries and barber shops, pre-schools and medical clinics, grocery stores and vegetable stands, tea shops and falafel stands, pharmacies and office supply stores–and so much more.

And each person empowered brings light and life to their corner of the world.

The need is real, but so is the hope!

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Why I’ve Never Missed The JUSTICE Conference—and Won’t Miss It This Year!

June 9-10  Chicago
June 9-10 Chicago

In 2011 I asked myself this question: Has the American evangelical church actually awakened to the biblical call to justice as a part of our discipleship as Christians? Or, did we just get caught up in a temporary cool to care movement? Continue reading

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Why I Signed the World Relief Open Letter on Refugees

Today a reporter asked me why I signed the World Relief open letter asking President Trump to reconsider his recent executive order impacting refugees. She also asked my opinion on the apparent divide between the pulpit and the pew when it comes to refugees. In other words, over 500 evangelical leaders signed the letter, yet polls have revealed that a majority of white evangelicals do not feel a responsibility to Syrian refugees and would support a law barring Syrian refugees from entering the US. Why that divide?

Here’s my answer: Continue reading

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What Climbing Kilimanjaro Taught Me About Refugees

On March 8, 2016, International Women’s Day, I reached the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. At an altitude of nearly 20,000 feet, it’s the highest peak on the African continent, and the tallest free standing mountain in the world.

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Help First-Responders Rescue 4,000 Syrian Women & Children–NOW

Questscope is one of my favorite organizations serving refugees and displaced people in the Middle East. I’ve traveled with them, I’ve seen their programs, I’ve met their top leaders as well as grassroots volunteers. I just received the following email update about an immediate and critical need. Would you join me this weekend in giving on behalf of 4,000 women and children. Just $50,000 can lift them from despair to dignity and hope.

From Questscope

4,000 women and children are currently being evacuated from two besieged towns in the Idlib governorate of western Syria to designated areas around the city of Homs – right now, this week. They have lived under siege for more than three years. Our team there will coordinate this move and provide support and shelter.

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December–The Quiet Month

I actually wrote this blog a year ago. Called “Confessions of a December Dropout,” I wrote it to give myself–and anyone else who needed it–permission to opt out of the crazy hustle and noise of the season. Turns out I need that message even more this year than I did a year ago. The weariness I felt in December ’15 I feel even more deeply now, and the quietness that beckoned me twelve months ago calls with even greater insistence today. So, here’s to a quiet month, a month of slowed down hours and simple pleasures, a month of deep healing and profound joy and the anticipation of new birth. Join me? Continue reading

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What I’m Thankful For

I actually wrote this blog the weekend before the election. I decided that for two days I would shut out the steady stream of negative and depressing political rhetoric and focus on a few things I’m thankful for. Unfortunately, before I could post the blog, my computer succumbed to a severe virus and crashed. But as the negative and depressing political rhetoric continues—and as Thanksgiving approaches—I offer these humble and meandering thoughts. Continue reading

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Hear the Mother’s Prayer: Bring Down the Peace!

The following is a guest post from my dear Israeli friend Lisa Loden. Lisa is a theologian, a leader of contemplative prayer retreats, an advocate for women in leadership…but mostly, she is a courageous and passionate peacemaker who longs to see God’s people living the reality of reconciliation. On October 19, Lisa joined thousands of Israeli and Palestinian women in a March of Hope sponsored by Women Wage Peace. I guarantee you will be inspired by Lisa’s description of the march.

Guest Post by Lisa Loden

As someone who longs for and actively pursues peace, to join a march with thousands of women who share this passion was not much of a question for me. Despite never having taken part in a public march, this one, from the first time I heard about it seemed right. It was more than right; it was a hope-inspiring journey for me. Continue reading

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I Am My Sister’s Keeper

News from war zones has been particularly tragic this week: A deadly airstrike in Aleppo, Syria. A brutal ISIS attack on a refugee camp in Iraq. A massacre by an extremist militia on innocent villagers in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

If you’ve already read this post, just scroll to the end where I’ve provided links to some of my favorite organizations offering help and hope in these regions. These are all organizations whose work I’ve visited and respect.

If this post is new to you, read on…. Continue reading

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Falling In Love With Iraq Via Istanbul

Twice in the last 14 months I was in Istanbul on my way to Iraq. With 8-hour evening layovers, my friends and I decided to make the most of it. Those two brief, whirlwind tours were all it took for us to fall in love with this amazing city where east and west have met for centuries.

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