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. Unknown-5

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These photos fill my mind this week, as I hear the heart-wrenching news from Istanbul. I think of my friends and I literally running--and laughing--through the unfamiliar concourses in search of visas so we could exit the airport for just a few hours. I think of the kind strangers who gave us directions and the taxi drivers who earnestly (so it seemed) sought the quickest routes so we could maximize our sightseeing potential.

The juxtaposition of what I experienced in Istanbul and what so many others tragically experienced this week makes me literally feel sick. Such unnecessary suffering. Such heartache and pain.

And then in the midst of this comes crushing news from friends in Iraq. In the fighting in and around Fallujah, a convoy from the Preemptive Love Coalition delivering food to desperate, displaced Fallujans comes under attack.

Many of us prayed through the night for our friends from Preemptive Love.

Read this updated report to learn about the danger the Preemptive Love team faced and will continue to face as they help the families of Fallujah who have escaped ISIS only to find themselves starving and shelterless in the desert.

Please consider donating here to help the families of Fallujah.

Do you wonder if it matters when you donate to an organization like Preemptive Love? The following are portraits my friend Christine Anderson took of men, women and children we met in Iraq. All had been as desperate as the families of Fallujah are now. But all were loved and served by Preemptive Love.

For some it started with emergency food relief. Then shelter. Then education. Then trauma counseling. Then small business enterprise. Now, they have hope and joy and a future. These are real Iraqis whose horror turned to hope.

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That last photo shows Jeremy Courtney, founder of the Preemptive Love Coalition. Jeremy and his wife, Jessica, have become my heroes on-the-ground in Iraq. I've visited them twice, and will undoubtedly go back again. Not only are they going where most people fear to go, but they're also inspiring Iraqis themselves--drawing from diverse local populations--to partner together on behalf of their displaced and suffering countrymen.

So when we join Preemptive Love we are also joining local Iraqi heroes. This is a great and rare opportunity. Please join me and many others in supporting PLC and local Iraqi heroes in bringing hope to the people of Fallujah.

You can donate here. Thank you.

Photos by Christine Anderson Photography.