Dalia is a woman of remarkable spiritual strength and fortitude. Her life was threatened by so-called Islamic State and her home was ransacked, but with your support she has overcome these difficulties to become a leading figure in her local church.
Dalia, from Iraq, has known persecution for years. In 2006, her uncle was murdered by Islamic extremists. Eight years later, her family was threatened again by so-called Islamic State (IS). Overnight, she fled her home. “I remember being so anxious,” she says. “We left our house that we had spent years building and ran into the unknown.”
Dalia’s family courageously chose to return to the Nineveh Plain in 2017. Her home was looted and daubed with IS slogans. “I felt like a stranger, as if I didn’t belong to this place. It was excruciatingly painful.”
"What better place to find hope than in the Bible?” Dalia, Iraq
Dalia needed something to restore her self-confidence and strengthen her faith, and other women did too. “We thought, what is a better place to gather than the church, and what better place to find hope than in the Bible?”
With your support, Dalia received training in women’s ministry, as part of our drive to empower churches in Iraq and Syria to become Centres of Hope. These churches meet local needs, whether that’s strengthening discipleship and church leadership or providing trauma care and microloans to help rebuild lives.
Dalia says: “The trainers taught us how we could present the Lord Jesus to the women of our village, how to serve them in love, communicate with them wisely and transmit hope.” Soon she was organising regular Bible studies for up to 150 women. “I feel the Holy Spirit is at work in us during the meetings; it’s such a joyful feeling. When I hear that a woman is preparing the Bible study at home, together with her husband and children, that really makes me happy."
"When I hear that a woman is preparing the Bible study at home, together with her husband and children, that really makes me happy.” Dalia, Iraq
Women of all ages are part of the group. Sarwa (30) has grown in confidence since attending. “The women’s ministry has broadened my view and changed the way I am thinking,” she says. For Samera in her 50s, it’s an opportunity to grow: “Through these gatherings we educate and develop ourselves. I always talk about what I learned with my daughters, neighbours and friends.”
In their group photos the women are all smiles, but further difficulties may be near. Violent incidents still occur in Iraq. “My daughter studies in Mosul, where kidnaps and explosions happen often,” says Dalia. “Our bags are always packed, just in case we have to flee for our lives again.”
Coronavirus has added to the uncertainty. Dalia’s church recently closed and activities moved online. Doing Bible studies at home is not common here, but the women have embraced the ‘new normal’. They particularly benefit from the support of our local partners. “The local workers are a great support for us, financially as well as morally. And without that support, we wouldn’t be able to continue our work,” Dalia says.
Every £28 could enable four women to attend empowerment training, so they can understand their healthy, Bible-based role and true value in the family, church and community.