Show Me God: Reflecting on My Visit to Iraq

Two years ago I accepted a position to go fulltime with RZIM, and so I have the honor to serve Ravi Zacharias and his team. With my position I also have the privilege to travel with Ravi on most of his trips. But two months before my start date I was with Ravi in Romania and after the first day there, I had this overwhelming feeling of second thoughts towards working fulltime in the ministry. I felt so underqualified. I told this to Ravi and he simply said, “That’s why you will do great at this position.” Then he specifically said, “Pray and ask God to show you why you are here on this trip.”

The next day we had invited a family from Romania who are close friends of friends of RZIM. When Ravi spoke the next evening, he gave an invitation to come forward and follow Jesus. This family’s child (from Romania) came forward. Later that night, Ravi smiled and said, “Now do you know why you came to Romania, Sanj?”

You see, I know why we go where we go. We go to share the gospel. We have meetings. We visit sites. So before I leave on my trips now I specifically pray and ask God to “show me” why I am on the trip. This reminds me of C. S. Lewis’s essay “Meditation in A Toolshed.” He writes about the different experiences of looking along a beam of light versus looking at a beam of light. To me, looking at it shows me more!

Hopefully you have read some of Ravi’s blogs on our recent trip to Iraq. I want to share with you what God showed me on this incredible trip. Briefly, Iraq was very emotional, intense, sad, and confusing sometimes. But every day I saw hope and light in dark places. Whenever there is darkness, there is opportunity for the gospel message.

God showed me three amazing stories of transformation and conversion in Iraq. The first story came from the love and compassion of a Christian surgeon from Samaritan’s Purse. Two ISIS men were badly wounded and were brought to the Samaritan’s Purse tent hospital. An American resident surgeon, who can understand and speak Arabic, heard the wounded men say that after they got better, they were planning on killing the people there at the hospital. Now the surgeon was full of emotion and began to contemplate whether to operate on them. He decided to operate on the patients because he realized the ISIS man on the table had not been saved by Jesus Christ. After the surgery, the ISIS man was so overwhelmed by the love and compassion expressed that he ended up surrendering his life to Jesus. Not only was his body saved but more importantly, his soul was saved.

My second story of transformation I heard came from visiting the Yazidis’ refugee camp. At this particular camp there were about 15,000 people. When Samaritan’s Purse (SP) arrived to help the Yazidis, they were amazed. The SP workers began sharing God’s Word and handed out white-covered Bibles to them. The Yazidis like the color white. One particular refugee was asked if she knew who Jesus was and she responded, “Who is Jesus?” She was introduced to Jesus when she began to read the Gospel of John, and she surrendered her life to Jesus. She then started reaching out to her people by handing out white Bibles. She eventually joined Samaritan’s Purse and is leading devotionals now.

My third story is about a thirty-year-old Kurdish man who sided with terrorists until his brother was killed by ISIS. He told us point-blank, “They cut my brothers head off!” In turn, he decided he would help the US Special Forces and try to get revenge. His life would change quickly when he was on a mission to eliminate a particular target/person. They entered the home of the target and were successful. But what the Kurdish man didn’t realize is that the target’s four-year-old son was lying next to the father. The young boy woke up and immediately held the Kurdish man’s hand and asked him, “Where did my father go?” The Kurdish man said “He is in heaven.” Then the boy asked, “Where is heaven?” The man let go of his hand and quickly left without giving the boy an answer. The man ended up next to a garbage can somewhere crying so hard that he fell asleep. During his sleep he experienced a long detailed dream where Jesus forgave him and invited him to follow him. From that moment his life changed, and he now works full time for Samaritan’s Purse.

Three transformations: one by the love and compassion of a Christian to a nonbeliever, another by hearing and reading God’s Word, and another by a dream of Jesus Christ revealed to a Muslim. Amazing!

Thank you, God, for showing me a glimpse of why I went to Iraq.

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