My Bags Aren’t Packed, but I’m Ready to Go.
Fr. Dale Johnson, is no stranger to refugee crises.
This Syriac Orthodox priest has aided the UN High Commission on Refugees all over the world—in South Africa, Mongolia, the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
Fr. Dale now resides most of the year at the Mor Augin Monastery in eastern Turkey, where yet another refugee crisis moved into the neighborhood, right across the Iraqi border, in Dohuk.
Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi and Syrian Christians, Yazidis and Zoroastrians have escaped the genocide of the Islamic State and are massed in the hills (and even abandoned shopping malls) around Kurdish-controlled area of Dohuk.
The Islamic State seems to be hell-bent (truly!) on eliminating all the minority religious peoples out of the region. Now, for the first time since the time of the apostles, we fear that those Christians who speak the Aramaic language (the language of Jesus and his disciples) will disappear from the Middle East.
However, through a coalition of Kurdish military and Allied airpower, the Islamic State is slowly withdrawing from the region (although they control great swaths of Iraq and Syria).
Refugee families are starting to believe that the might be able to go home. All they need is hope.
Fr. Dale has taken his cue on how to provide hope from some of the refugee ladies, who told him, “Just bring us seeds…so when we go home, we can plant our own gardens and grow our own food and raise our families.”
The difficulty is that the seeds are in Diyarbakir, Turkey; the money for same is in the Pacific Northwest, and we need to get all that to Dohuk.
Fr. Dale has been raising funds for seeds this past summer in the Pacific Northwest—from Vancouver Washington to Lummi Island. He will lead a group of five intrepid pilgrims who will assemble the seeds in packages and carry them across the border to Dohuk. (See the Links page for more).
While there we will talk with bishops, UN representatives, militia members and the refugees, and from all this we hope to have a small understanding of the needs of the refugees and the impact of the decimation of an ancient people from the region.
My own hope is that by standing in as a representative of churches and citizens of the Great Northwest, I can acknowledge that we all share in the historic decisions that led to the genocide that is now taking place in Iraq and Syria, and that we stand in solidarity to protest the barbaric actions of the Islamic State.
Our departure date is shortly after midnight on the 8th of September. …More to follow.