This is what “home” looks like for many families on the run from war.

ISIS is kicking people out of their homes and hiding fighters inside until security forces come to clear it.

Then ISIS blows up the house.

Inside Mosul, we drive by unexploded car bombs. Will a flying bullet or a piece of shrapnel from an airstrike set one off? It’s beyond nerve-wracking.

In the hands of ISIS, cars become weapons of death. But for many who escape, their cars are a lifeline.

If you live in Mosul, and if you escape with your car, it may be the only thing you have left to your name.

Your car becomes your house, your getaway vehicle, your ambulance, your school—the linchpin for rebuilding and starting over from scratch.

Yet the Big Aid industry often punishes displaced families if they own a car. They say things like, “You should sell your car and buy food.” We’ve seen it again and again—families who had to choose between their car and a food voucher. Families who’ve been told they aren’t “poor” enough to deserve help… because they hung onto their car.

So then what? What if that family gets rid of their car? Dad can’t pursue work without it. The family becomes more dependent on handouts. And the cycle continues, pushing people deeper into poverty in the name of “helping” them, until Big Aid goes home and families are left with even less than the day they escaped ISIS.

I ask myself:

What if I was brutalized by ISIS? What if my house was destroyed, my city gone, half my family killed, the other half injured? How would I want to be treated? What would I expect of those who call themselves “believers” or “humanitarians,” those who claim to be the people of Love?

And then I’m reminded of one of the best-known teachings of Jesus: What happens to them, happens to me.

I don’t have to ask, “What if it was me?” We are all connected in this. I need to learn this more deeply. My world is torn apart if theirs is. My kids suffer if theirs do. My home gets a hole in it when theirs does.

We have this one home to share, and it’s only superficially demarcated by rooms called “race” and “nation” and “yours” and “mine.”

So it’s 120 degrees outside in the desert near Mosul. And this blanket and dirty mop rag strung between two cars—this is my home today. And I’ve got to work like mad to get my family back to wholeness. Because they are all I’ve got.

If you’ve already given to help these friends, thank you. If you’re giving every month, because you recognize that their suffering is your suffering, and their joy is your joy… thank you. Your regular, monthly giving—even if you just take what you would have given once and break it into 12 parts—helps us to show up faster and stay longer… long after Big Aid has moved on. It allows these families to lift themselves back up, without having to sacrifice more than what’s already been taken from them. It allows them begin again, knowing that you have their back.

We belong to each other.

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