From a young age, Haytham experienced suffering and tragedy, which he ended up blaming on God. But when he eventually accepted Jesus as his Savior, his life was redeemed, and his situation improved infinitely. With assistance from Help The Persecuted, Haytham and his family now stand as an example of hope and restoration in their community.

The Gidya family after returning to their destroyed home in Qaraqosh, Iraq. October 2018.

1 — Blaming God

Haytham grew up on a farm in northern Iraq. His family attended a traditional church, where he grew up listening to sermons about Jesus. However, he never understood why God allowed bad things to happen to good people.

When he got older, Haytham was conscripted into military service. He fought for Iraq in a number of wars and witnessed his fill of death and destruction. All of this violence left him understandably troubled and confused. He began to blame God for the tragedies he witnessed.

After leaving the military, Haytham got a job as a blacksmith in his village. One day at work, he had an accident, which badly injured his left eye. Without medical attention, Haytham eventually lost all sight in the eye. Once again, he blamed God for his suffering.

Without faith to guide him, Haytham continued to see God as the source of his problems. But his situation was about to get even worse.

2 — Invasion

In 2014, Haytham’s town was invaded by ISIS troops. Despite his years in the military, this was the first time in his life that he was truly terrified. He fled to the nearby city of Erbil with his wife, Safiya, their four children, and nothing more than the clothes on their backs. 

Without any money, they weren’t able to find a place to stay in Erbil. Thankfully, a church just outside the city gave them temporary shelter. After a year, the church could not continue to house them and asked Haytham to relocate.

While looking for their next home, Haytham learned about the church where his brother-in-law was a member. The church had a Safe House operated by Help The Persecuted, and after navigating the quick application process, the family was granted refuge.

Haytham began talking to the church leaders about why God would allow him to suffer. They helped him to understand that bad situations in his life didn’t come from God. The pastor told him, “‘We sometimes blame God, but we forget that the whole world is under the control of the evil one. God allows things to happen for our good.”

It was these words that helped Haytham finally accept Jesus as his Savior. 

The rest of his family soon followed his lead and dedicated their lives to Christ. They began to attend worship regularly and dove headfirst into the Gospel. One of his sons began serving at the church’s youth group. After years of agony and misfortune, they’d finally found a source of hope and peace. 

3 – Rebuilding

By 2017, ISIS was forced out of Haytham’s hometown, Qaraqosh, and his family was able to return. But the town was in ruins. ISIS had literally destroyed everything—including their home which had been burned to the ground.  

But with a newfound faith in Christ, Haytham had the courage to rebuild. And Help The Persecuted was there to provide reconstruction funding for the family’s home as well as a small business grant to help him create a vegetable farm.

By selling the produce he grows, Haytham is able to earn a reliable income to support his family. Because of water scarcity in the area, he also needed a water pump to irrigate the farm, which Help The Persecuted provided as well.

Years after his blacksmithing accident, Haytham still suffered from the damage done to his eye. Help The Persecuted arranged for restorative surgery at a hospital in Erbil. This procedure alleviated his physical pain and helped him to move on from the scars of his past.

All in all, it cost about $11,000 to rebuild Haytham’s home and purchase farming equipment. The water pump alone cost just $700. But these were massive investments into not only the future of Haytham’s family, but also the entire Qaraqosh community.

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4 – A Beacon of Hope

Many others who fled Northern Iraq because of ISIS are still hesitant to return. They’re fearful of the devastation that awaits them there. But Haytham and his family stand as a beacon of hope to those brave enough to come back. 

By rebuilding his home, Haytham has shown others what is possible through faith

The crops he grows provide a sustainable food source for other families in the area. And his family’s presence encourages others to come back and resume their lives without fear of persecution.

Haytham’s story reminds us of the parable of the talents in Scripture. This man has done much with the little that has been entrusted to him, and so he has been blessed by God with more. And Help The Persecuted is happy to be a part of that blessing.

This community’s hope for restoration was provided by generous supporters of Help The Persecuted. Because of your donations, we’ve been able to provide shelter, food, and security to persecuted Christians like Haytham. Together, we can show our brothers and sisters in Christ that God is still able to do miraculous work.