Former Missionary Trainee Leaves for Short-term Trip to Middle East

Editor’s note: Matt Wilkinson completed the missionary training at To Every Tribe’s Center for Pioneer Church Planting (CPCP) a number of years ago.  Matt is now a trained paramedic and is working on getting into medical school to become a doctor.  He leaves today for a three week trip to Iraq and Turkey leaving behind his wife, Leanne and their six children.  Below is a prayer letter he sent out before leaving.  Get more information at www.thirstyground.org.

Middle_East_geographicGreetings in the name of our precious Savior, Jesus Christ.  Thank you for your prayers and support.  I leave for the trip to Iraq and Turkey today.  I’ll be gone for almost three weeks. Our team’s goal is to show the love of Christ to those affected by the violence in this region. Yes, it’s likely dangerous,  but the safest place to be is in the center of God’s will!  I feel led by God to help our brethren there and to try to reach the lost. Besides, I cannot be in any more danger than I was for many years when I was on my way to hell! Christ has saved me and I know that “to live is Christ and to die is gain”! We’re going with much prayer and in the authority of Jesus Christ.  We are to “do good to all, especially to those of the household of faith”. We must also “love our enemies” and “do good to them”. Maybe God would even save an I.S. member!  

Our team plans to have 30,000 New Testaments to give away and God says, “…he who sows abundantly, will reap abundantly! ” Iraq and southern Turkey may be closed off to missionaries soon. This is our chance to help some of the most desperate people on the planet in the name of Christ!  Have you seen what’s happening on the Syrian/Turkey border? After about 120,000 flooded the border in two days and the Turks won’t let more Syrians cross their border. Thousands of Syrian refugees are trapped between the advancing I.S. killers and the tear gas throwing Turkish border guards.  Let’s pray!

Iraq
We don’t know what the work will really look like in Iraq, but we plan to stay in one city that has not been taken by I.S. We will give out supplies and Bibles to the refugees and preach the gospel.  It’s reported that 1.4 million refugees are scattered in that area. 200,000 are professing Christians. Therefore, the majority are Muslims.  Many are quite disillusioned with Islam since the persecution is coming from other Muslims.  It’s a possible open door for missionaries.  These families fled for their lives and the last thing they expect is for foreign Christians to come to their aid. What will Muslims think when we meet them? May God prepare hearts!

There’s a Christian medical clinic there that is overwhelmed.  I plan to be there for two days with our doctor while the rest of the team continues the outreach. We may be staying in the warehouse of a friendly contact. He’s loaning a truck to us and providing food,  too.  We plan to eat local food and drink bottled water.

Turkey
After about ten days we will fly to Turkey to help some churches in southern Turkey involved in relief work amongst the Yazidis and other Iraqi refugees on the other side of the Iraq-Turkey border. We will make an 18 hour drive by van to get to them. Estimates say there are about 50,000 refugees scattered through various towns and villages where we will be. One report is that the Yazidis refugees are in such shock from the forced exile at the hands of Muslims, that they are refusing to receive relief or help from Muslims, and the Turkish government has put out an appeal to Christian groups to come in and assist the Yazidis. If true, this would be rather significant and indicate a wide-open door for work amongst this formerly closed off population.

We hope to have enough resources left over from the work in Iraq to acquire blankets and tents in Turkey to distribute in these villages, and hope to have several thousand Arabic Bibles as well, although we are hearing that many of the Yazidis are illiterate (we have 100 solar-powered audio Bibles to give away as well).  We hope to hold medical camps there, too.   The Yazidis are monotheistic, but are not Christians or Muslims. These are the people that were trapped on a mountain with I.S. surrounding them. Reports say that they were so hopeless that some dropped their children off cliffs to spare them from the genocide. They need Christ! Someone must tell them the gospel!

What can a team of nine do in this disaster? Should we do nothing since we can’t do everything? No, Brethren, with God’s blessing, something great can be accomplished.  God has always used a remnant and likes to show His strength in weakness. Let God be glorified!