So Paul took his stand in the open space at the Areopagus and laid it out for them: "I'm here to introduce you to this God.... He doesn't play hide-and-seek with us. He's not remote; he's near. We live and move in him, can't get away from him!" ~Acts 17
I met ReGina on a cold January morning in Beirut after a women's Bible study for Iraqi refugees hosted by Heart for Lebanon. We stood next to a portable heater, warming our hands and feet. ReGina wore black, knitted gloves. Two fingers were missing from her right hand.
Then she told her story.
She and her family were from Mosul, a city of over a million people in northern Iraq. They were part of the Christian community there, which has ancient roots in the region. The Christians of Iraq are considered one of the oldest continuous Christian communities in the world, dating back to the first century AD, hundreds of years before Constantine and the formation of the Catholic Church.
One day, as she and her daughter were leaving church, a car bomb exploded. Regina lost those two fingers in the explosion. Her daughter has scars all over her body from the shrapnel, some of which is still embedded.
She fled Mosul and now lives in a rented apartment with her daughter and extended family members. Like many other Iraqi refugees, they are struggling to survive while they wait for the U.N. to approve their relocation to another country. Like most refugees, work is difficult if not impossible to find. Most refugees flee their homes with little or nothing, and what savings they have are used up quickly.
According to the UNHCR, ReGina and other Iraq Christians like her represented less than five percent of the total Iraqi population but made up 40 percent of Iraqi refugees living in nearby countries in 2007. That number increased after ISIS attacks in the past year and a half.