The temple was dark. There was no light except for the tiny white glimmer that slips through the door leading to the outside. We were standing in the world renown Yazidi temple, an annual destination for every Yazidi who can make the trek to it. This is a temple that leaders from other religions come to pray in before elections, political decisions and other significant events. There we were, barefoot and sopping wet from the downpour rain we just escaped, praying as we entered the temple.
As we walked from room to room learning about the Yazidi culture and history, we began to ask for the revelation of Jesus to cover the earth like the waters cover the seas. Believing that this place would be a place of encounter and visions of the Man of Light. That He would fill every part of the darkness of those very rooms. “For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet, until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a burning torch", Isaiah 62:1 was on our tongues when all of a sudden we see a flicker of light coming towards us. The light got closer and closer until we realized that it was a man lighting large candles with oil and fire in his hands. Every day this appointed man lights candles with oil all over the temple and surrounding area that burn throughout the night. Lighting 366 candles to be exact, everyday. The candles he just lit now illuminated a once black room, revealing all the beautiful and ancient cracks and crevices. All the handiwork was uncovered by this light and it revealed a room of huge 1000 year old pots filled with oil. "Oil and fire, fire and oil," I heard the Lord speak. Its the fire that uncovers the darkness and its the oil that keeps the fire burning through the night. He is going to use both of these things to reform this land and uncover the treasures of darkness and hidden places of destiny and purpose. No crack or crevice goes unnoticed by Him, not even the darkness of war nor the terror of ISIS can darken His plans that all may know Him.“ Light A Candle," He says. Instantly I am taken back to a vision I had on the a rooftop of one of the houses we were staying at in a city. With my eyes closed, it was as if all I could see was the feet of Jesus before me. In the vision, I began to pour out oil at His feet, all the oil I had, all my worship, all my days that I had to live, all my love. . .It was the only appropriate response. I looked up and Jesus had oil pouring from his hands and it just kept flowing and flowing. It fell onto my head and into my hands, covering all of me. “This oil is for the healing of the Nation and the broken,” I clearly heard Him say. Then I began to see Kurdistan and it was breaking oil at Jesus’ feet with worship and as it did, as before with me, He began to pour oil from His hands down all over Iraq, covering every place. “This oil is for the healing the Nation and the broken. “He repeated. It was if God was letting us into His plan, as worship arises like oil poured out, He is pouring out oil, the healing of the Nation. Fire and Oil.
We hit the ground running, after delayed flights, cancelled flights and no sleep, our team hopped in a caravan of cars driving 3 hours with local workers we were partnering with, to head to a city to do a night of worship and prayer. The beauty of Northern Iraq is not easily missed as we drove through mountains, over rivers, on cliffs, through fields and finally to our destination! The hunger overwhelmed us as over 50 workers and their families came together in one place in unity to worship and pray for this land they are sowing their lives into to see healed. It was a beautiful time of the presence, worship, prayer and ministry. It was very apparent God has not forgotten this land, but is truly calling and sending workers to see His Kingdom established. As we all gathered around a table to eat dinner after the service, we were astounded by story after story of God’s calling and marking normal people with normal families and normal lives for extraordinary things.
The next day we hopped in our caravan and drove back to the capital city of Kurdistan to launch straight into our 27 hour burn! The timing of this burn could not have been more significant as we were bringing in the Kurdish New Year, a holiday called Newroz. Normally this time of year is a time of celebration, dressing up, picnics, bonfires, and dancing, but this year was different. Because of current conditions of the battles against IS, threats of attacks on the city during that time, as well as the financial crisis, it was decided to cancel the celebrations. What better time to gather believers and worship? We sang in English, Kurdish, and Arabic, gathering in 3 different churches throughout the 27 hours with many believers gathering together in unity. The hunger was so apparent, many stayed all throughout the night feeling the need to pray and worship during these hours. The sound of songs in their indigenous tongue and the rumbling of prayer for healing and peace in this land rose to heaven like sweet smelling perfume. Even in the midst of wars and rumors of war, He is still worthy. “I have posted watchmen on your walls, Jerusalem; they will never be silent day or night. You who call on the Lord, give yourselves no rest, and give him no rest till he establishes Jerusalem and makes her the praise of the earth”, a local woman prayed out loud in front of the room full of people. It was hour 26. She began to pour out her heart to us that years and years ago this became her prayer for Kurdistan and with tears she says, “it is the beginning of the fulfillment of this prayer.” God is moving in this Nation and He is raising up the watchmen on the walls!
We met a few of those watchmen at a house church filled with Kurdish believers from Iran. Many of them have had to flee from their homes and are now living in N.Iraq. We heard stories of how God rescued different ones from being kidnapped and persecuted, pure miracles. There in that small house we worshiped, prayed and ministered to one another. One lady who was having to return home after the holidays told us how she is the only known believer where she lives and if she says the name of Jesus on the phone, her phone line gets cut off. She even has to hide her Bible. It has been ages since she got to freely worship Jesus like we did that night. She said she felt the hand of Jesus press upon her chest and fill her up. She is going back filled with faith and filled with Holy Spirit.
Northern Iraq has been flooded with refugees and displaced people from surrounding countries and then many displaced from within. The other city we travel to has over 1 million refugees and displaced ones that have come because of IS attacks. The UN is stating that by the end of 2015 the total number of refugees will have grown from over 2 million to 3 million! As we stood in a camp that housed over 60,000 Yazidis which was only 1 of 22 camps in the area, those numbers never felt so real. The Yazidis are a unreached people group who are from the areas of Mount Sinjar, Shingal and Mosul, and an ethnic Kurdish minority. While we were there, all of the attacks over the past 10 months have been officially deemed a genocide against Yazidis. There has been the brutal killing of hundreds of men and boys, the capture of women "as spoils of war", the rape of girls as young as six, forced separation of families, with boys as young as eight taken to be trained as IS fighters.
Our Burn team joined up with a team of doctors and a healing ministry team to work in the camps partnering medicine, healing prayer, and worship! It was incredible seeing family after family come into the room for prayer and see how Jesus was healing them. Many come in with problems related to trauma, stress and fear. We prayed peace over so many hearts and watched as countenances changed and those who came in almost in tears left looking lighter. We took the music out to the camp and sung all throughout there as well gathering hundreds of children to sing, laugh, and play. Worshiping God and inviting his presence even in the midst of it all. There was one man we met who has 16 family members still taken by IS, some as young as 2 years old. We got to meet him on multiple occasions and got to pray with him for the rescue of his family. He introduced us to his two children who we later found out he actually just took into his home because they both had lost their parents. This is so common among the Yazidis and the Kurds, to take in orphaned children into your family as your own. The kindness of the Kurds is overwhelming. Even in the midst of poverty and fleeing war, they would invite us into their tents to have chai, or try to make us a meal even though they have nothing. There is so much negativity and fear about this area of the world right now, and we feel as a Light A Candle team, to uncover the incredible beauty of the people there and to reveal what God is doing! He is moving. He is close. He is healing. The testimonies are endless and we can’t wait to continue to share what God is doing there! To end I want to share Isaiah 62, it seemed to be a theme throughout our journey to Northern Iraq this time.
“For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet, until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a burning torch. The nations shall see your righteousness, and all the kings your glory, and you shall be called by a new name that the mouth of the LORD will give. You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God. You shall no more be termed Forsaken,and your land shall no more be termed Desolate,bbut you shall be called My Delight Is in Her, and your land Married;For the LORD delights in you, and your land shall be married.” On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have set watchmen; all the day and all the night they shall never be silent. You who put the LORD in remembrance, take no rest, and give him no rest until he establishes Jerusalem and makes it a praise in the earth. Isaiah 62:1-4,6-7
We want to run together as a burn tribe to see this nation transformed. We will be sending continual teams over this next year, doctors, nurses, musicians, counsellors and pretty much any laid down lover! We are also committed to praying for this nation. I encourage you to make a weekly time to pray for Northern Iraq and keep informed about what is going on over there and what God is doing.
We have just launched a LightACandle Instagram, and you can follow it @light_a_candle_