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July 11, 2017

Wilberforce A!ert: Free Burma Rangers on the Frontlines in the Middle East

It is difficult to paint a bleak enough picture with words. There is sorrow in Frank Wolf’s voice as he explains how the situation on the ground in Iraq has changed.

As the 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative opened its offices two-and-a-half years ago, the executive team launched the organization with a fact-finding mission to Iraq. At the time, their interviews with the religious minority communities that had been terrorized by ISIS reflected the hope that their torment would be temporary. The displaced said they needed help so they could go home.

Today, if you ask the Yezidis and Christians where their hope lies, it is in leaving. Mr. Wolf says all that’s left of their communities is rubble.

“The Christians and Yezidis in Iraq are under great pressure … we’re ready to see the end of Christianity in the cradle of Christendom.” His voice trails off.

If there is anything people in the U.S. can do, it’s to encourage the Trump Administration to help the Iraqi Christians, Yezidis and other religious minorities rebuild. Squeezing ISIS out of its remaining areas of control is hard work with unheard of civilian casualties. One organization, Free Burma Rangers (FBR), is on the ground in the line of fire. FBR’s founder, David Eubank, is an Army Special Forces veteran who started this multi-ethnic humanitarian service movement working on the front lines of conflict zones.

Since 1997, FBR has conducted more than 1,000 missions in Burma and the Middle East to assist 1.2 million people. It currently partners with four organizations to provide medical and humanitarian support in Syria and Iraq. FBR, along with hundreds of volunteers including Mr. Eubank’s wife and three children, provide critical emergency medical care, shelter, food and other aid. In June, his rescues of children who survived ISIS attacks were covered on CNN and in the Los Angeles Times.

21CWI and FBR held a joint press conference last Thursday in Washington, D.C. to address the plight of the religious minorities in Iraq. Mr. Eubank spoke highly of the work being done on the ground by the Iraqi forces and the U.S. forces who are assisting:

“I want to encourage President Trump and Vice President Pence: support the Iraqi army. The army is doing the right thing. They are paying the hard price, and they have a realistic view of what it takes for the future of Iraq. They need more of our support, they need fixed vehicles, and they will play an important part in how the future of Iraq plays out … (encourage) the Iraqi government and the Kurdish government – please keep making a place for the Jews, Yezidis and Christians.”

Mr. Eubank believes so strongly in his calling that he is undeterred.  His translator and driver have been killed, and he’s been shot and is in constant danger on the front lines. Yet he continues his work and takes his family with him.

He and Mr. Wolf – while recognizing the direness of the situation – persevere in their hope that it is not over yet. Both implored those who want to do something, saying they should pray for the oppressed, encourage our government to help the people of Burma, Iraq, Syria and Sudan, sponsor an FBR relief team, or donate funds, time or equipment. Help FBR stand with the oppressed and pray for the oppressors.

Take Action:

  1. Write to President Trump (https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/), specifically asking the administration to do more to support the rebuilding of homes, hospitals, schools, churches and other infrastructure in the historic homelands of ethnic and religious minorities in Iraq, as well as to grant our special forces more freedom to operate in Iraq.
  2. Learn more about Free Burma Rangers (www.freeburmarangers.org) and donate funds for medical supplies, food and other missions on the front lines.
  3. Pray for all people of goodwill to rise up and work to help those in religious-based conflicts. 
Category: Christian , Iraq , ISIS , Middle East & North Africa , Sudan , Syria , U.S.
Region: Middle East & North Africa
Keywords: David Eubank,Dave Eubank,Free Burma Rangers,Frank Wolf,Frank R. Wolf,President Trump,Iraq,ISIS,21st Century Wilberforce Initiative,21 Century Wilberforce Initiative,21 Wilberforce,21CWI

Christine Elliott Virgin

Christine Virgin is a freelance writer and editor for the 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative.  She was a Charles Kuralt Fellow at the Voice of America, covering international news and events.  Most recently, she worked in the production management department of Discovery Communications.  She has a bachelor's degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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The 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative is empowering a global movement to advance religious freedom as a universal right through advocacy, capacity building and technology.