Iraqi Copes with Violence in His Homeland
Hany hardly ever left the house except to walk to work and back. He’d change routes, and even changed jobs a few times because he heard attackers were targeting pharmacists like himself. There were times that, because of a curfew, his family couldn’t leave the house for days at a time. Since the war started in 2003, it was an ordeal to go to church services—the pastors didn’t want to make the services too long for fear of the congregation’s safety. Hany spent time at church thinking of how to walk home without being attacked or kidnapped. These were some of the reasons his family watched SAT-7 at home. When they had electricity, they would turn on SAT-7 and tap into the fellowship and teaching of a global Christian community.
As a pharmacist at the hospital, Hany worked alongside the sounds of ambulance sirens, police car sirens, and gunfire. One day when Hany was working, the victim of a bombing was brought into the hospital. The victim’s attackers had decided to finish what they started and tried to storm the hospital with guns, but fortunately, they never made it inside the building.
Eventually, in 2008, Hany and his family left Iraq. “We decided just to leave to save our lives,” he told me. Sadly, several of Hany’s family members would later be murdered in the massacre at Our Lady of Deliverance Church during October, 2010.
The same day I interviewed Hany over the phone, I watched an episode of the new SAT-7 program, Allo Iraq. A key Scripture in the episode was John 3:16. Presenters Ehsan and Lina talked first about God’s love for us, then about our love for God. Having spent years reciting John 3:16, I have long thought of it as a simple concept, but Ehsan and Lina brought out a challenging lesson. Ehsan asked the viewers, “Can we accept that God loves even criminals and people we believe to be terrorists? Can we think that God loves these people? God paid a very high price, His only Son! …but the truth is that God loves everyone. His love helps every person.”
Conceptually, it is easy to think that God loves each person. After all, everybody sins. But after hearing about how violence really changes people’s lives, I had a profound respect for Hany’s strength.
The person I talked to on the phone did not seem defined by his status as a refugee or by the people and experiences war had so unjustly stolen from him. My first impression was of an energetic and kindhearted person moved to share with me his pursuit of spiritual growth. He is a devoted family member and a hard-working professional determined to pursue his career as a pharmacist here in the U.S.
To access the full-length story on my interview with Hany, request the upcoming fall edition of our quarterly newsletter, Inside SAT-7, by phone at 1-866-744-7287 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.