If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it. 1 Corinthians 12:26
It is with great excitement and gratitude that I share this update on our SWIC project, in anticipation of my departure for Erbil on Sunday, Sept. 20th.
As most of you know, in January our church embarked on an important mission to offer friendship and material support to Christian refugees struggling in Erbil, Iraq, fleeing the barbarity of Daesh (ISIS). The results so far have been terrific: between our Indiegogo crowd-sourcing campaign, our wonderful iROCK4IRAQ benefit concert, and generous cash contributions from many sources, we have raised almost $12,000!
This will help fund a critically-needed mobile educational van for the refugee children and families being cared for by Mar Elia, our partner church and new friends in Erbil. For more information on Mar Elia, a Chaldean Catholic parish, and its faithful and courageous priest, Fr. Douglas Bazi, please see the links below. Fr. Douglas and I have been Skyping regularly and I have come to consider him a friend. He is passionate, engaging, creative and very funny!
In my conversations with Fr. Douglas, we came to the conclusion that the best use of our collection was to help fund a mobile education center. This will be a van outfitted with laptops, tablets, WiFi and other teaching and communications devices that will travel between the three Family Centers Mar Elia has created. Our initial contribution will help get the van outfitted and up and running, and our ongoing program will continue to support it over time.
A crucial piece of this project actually occurs after my return Oct. 2. While in Erbil, I will be shooting footage for a short documentary tentatively titled “Desert of Peace: Standing With Iraqi Christians.” I am partnering with local film maker Andrew Bilindabagabo, who will produce and edit the film. Once finished, we hope to utilize the film to continue to support the crucial work Mar Elia and other faith communities are doing to help the besieged Christians of the Middle East survive, find new hope, and continue in their life in Christ.
In 1 Corinthians above, Paul points out that when one member of the Body of Christ suffers, we all share in that pain. Also, however, we are promised that as any part of the Body celebrates and rejoices, we are part of that as well. I thank God for the gift of this relatedness, and in time hope to rejoice with our sisters and brothers in Erbil and throughout the Middle East. Together, let us bind up the broken, lift up the oppressed, and live into God’s promise of peace and union through the blessed Holy Spirit!
We will be posting frequent updates so you can follow the progress of this important ministry, see how your donations are being spent, and build friendships with our brothers and sisters in Erbil. Please follow us online, so you can receive all the important updates!
For those that live locally to the Radnor, Pennsylvania area, I would like to invite you to join us for my send-off during worship at 10 a.m. on Sunday, September 20th, and to attend an informal report about my trip on Sunday, October 11th at 11:30 a.m. The church address is:
St. Martin’s Episcopal Church, 400 King of Prussia Rd. Radnor, PA 19087 610-688-4830.
Rev. Christopher Bishop