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Oak Harbor, WA
5 Stars Out Of 5
what one family committed to love has done
October 1, 2013
Oak Harbor, WA
Why would someone take his whole family, pack them up, and move from their small town in Texas to Iraq? Jeremy was concerned about the targeted killing of Christians in Iraq, the Kurdish-Arab tension and the Sunni-Shia civil war. But could one family make a difference?
He was focused on helping war widows, concentrating largely on writing grant proposals, when he was asked to help a little Kurdish girl get a needed heart operation. He did what he could, passing on the paperwork. And then he saw that file on top of a stack of others. Children were dying, waiting in line for surgery. That event changed his life.
He stepped out on a long journey of loving first and asking questions later. He tells the stories of others who joined his efforts. They began generating funds by selling klash, the handmade shoes of the Kurds. He created a web site and their business boomed. The money went to pay for heart surgeries. (The business was eventually rolled into the Preemptive Love organization.)
But all was not well. A fatwa was issued against them and their (they were sending kids to Israel for surgery). Families of the children needing surgery were intimidated. They were later able to send children to Turkey but that also caused discontent as Turkey had not helped the Kurds during the 1988 genocide by Saddam. (They were eventually able to bring a surgery team into Iraq.) They were blindsided by a naive funding move. There was a fellow who came into their office with a bag who they later found out was probably planning to blow them up with the bomb in the bag. The office and their home were bugged and subsequent accusations made against them (that they were "missionaries"). One of his team was arrested and threatened.
Jeremy and his team persevered. It is estimated that congenital heart defects are eight times there what they are in the U.S. They have come to the place of being the leading organization in Iraq for children needing heart surgery, having been able to establish surgery training programs in Basra, Najaf and Nasiriyah.
This is an incredible story of one American family making a difference in Iraq, one heart at a time. I really liked the way Jeremy tells the story through his personal experiences - the successes and the struggles.
Jeremy writes that his experiences have exposed how far they are from being the people they want to be. They can only rely on God's love to overcome the hate and help them give out preemptive love.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.
In the middle of the Iraq War, Jeremy and Jessica Courtney found themselves with their two children caught up in the turmoil, just hoping to make a difference. After an encounter with a father whose little girl was dying from a heart defect, they began to investigate options for helping and learned that untold thousands of children across Iraq were in similar need, waiting in line for heart surgery in a country without a qualified heart surgeon.
With the help of their closest friends, they dived in to save the lives of as many as they could, but sending children abroad proved to be expensive and cumbersome, and it failed to make an impact on the systemic needs of Iraqi hospitalsâ€”the place where these children really should be saved. Despite fatwas, death threats, bombings, imprisonments, and intense living conditions, Jeremy and his team persevered to overcome years of hostilities and distrust in an effort to eradicate the backlog of thousands upon thousands of Iraqi children waiting in line for lifesaving heart surgery.
From the front line of the struggle for peace, Courtney writes a firsthand account of lifesaving and peacemaking in the world's most notorious war-torn country. In the heart of conflict, there is only one kind of love big enough to change a nation: a love that strikes first.
This was an amazing book. My eyes were opened to so many things, and prejudices I didn't even know I had fell away. Jeremy Courtney and his wife showed that "And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing." 1 Corinthians 13:2. Loving others who are different than we are is harder than I ever thought possible. But Jesus ate with the lowliest of sinners and did not turn anyone away. If we would take that stance with other peoples and nations, what kind of shape could our war-torn world be like?
I was really encouraged to know that grace in the midst of violence really does exist. Courtney reimagined and redefined what love really means, and that is sometimes costs us more than our prideful hearts are willing to give. But once given, what blessings can come of following Jesus's example! While I sit here in the comfort of my home and rant and rave about the problems we have as a country in the Middle East, Courtney shows that change is possible, and can be accomplished. A recommended read for anyone who aware of the Middle East and our dealings with them, and for anyone who wants to learn more. An uplifting read!
This book was provided by the publisher for free in exchange for an honest review.