Everything, gone in an instant.
It was loud. No, it redefined the word “loud.” It jolted their entire neighborhood into tears or shocked silence—all in an instant. Mohammad’s face sagged as he and his brother told us about the airstrike.
“ISIS, they forced us out of our home. They knew it was a good defensive position, so they forced us out,” Mohammad explained. He looked very, very sad.
His brother Omar seemed to be coping differently, with his spine held straight and jaw clenched.
We asked if they managed to take anything with them before their house was destroyed.
Mohammad shook his head. “No, ISIS made us leave quickly. They threatened to kill us, so we just had to go, but we didn’t know where.”
We’ve seen enough bodies in these war-zones to know better, but we asked anyway: “Were any of the ISIS fighters killed in your home…when the missile hit?”
They waved us around back and Omar began pulling the rubble away—we smelled them before we saw them.
“We don’t know how many were in here, but they are all dead now.”
Mohammad and Omar were grateful for the food you sent them that day. A month’s rations for both of their families was an amazing gift, but it was obvious what they were going to ask next: “Is there anything you can do to help us rebuild?”
It’s a painful thing, saying no to someone in pain, but we couldn’t give him what he wanted. His neighborhood is still too unstable to even think about rebuilding homes—there’s an actual war going on just a few blocks away and bodies still rotting in the rubble.
I glanced up at a nearby tree as Mohammad spoke. All the shredded fabric tangled in its branches gave it a haunted vibe—the explosion had blasted their wardrobe into the air.
“Then will you share about what happened to us? Show people the photos,” Mohammad said.
It was like he wanted someone to see what had happened to his family and to say, “This was wrong, and I’m sorry.”
That’s what we told him.
It’s so random when you think about it. In a sick, thunderous moment, these young men lost everything. They had normal jobs and were just out to enjoy life and support their families. They live in a nice neighborhood near the river. They never wanted things to go this way, but in the end, it was beyond their control.
It just speaks to the randomness of it all—some refugees run because it’s the only form of control they have over their situation. Or the opposite: many families choose to stay in their homes and brave the bombs because it feels like the only way they can maintain some control in all the chaos.
Sadly, at the end of the day, it’s often the good, decent, hard-working people who get caught up in terrible circumstances, and there wasn’t anything they could do to change it.
Those are the kind of people you’re showing up to love. They are traumatized, and their problems are huge, but that doesn’t mean we can’t sit and listen.
We can be present, we can keep our hearts and ears and eyes open to them, and we can tell their stories, all the while working tirelessly to send more food, more jobs, and more lifesaving medical care in the hope that this mess—including life for Mohammad and Omar—will someday get better.
By faith, we keep working, even though it could all be gone in an instant. Thank you for pressing in and choosing to love anyway.
Help the people of Mosul who are trapped in a conflict that doesn’t belong to them. Give today.