It’s October, which in our house means the central heating goes on. Waking up to a toasty home, toes hitting a warm floor as I get out of bed and scalding hot water coming out the shower. It doesn’t seem like much but these are the simple pleasures when winter is appearing on the horizon.
I’ve never much liked the approach of winter. Well that’s not quite true, I do love the colours of autumn, the sense of nature changing and the joy of not having to cut the grass again until spring. But there is an inevitability about the ‘nights fair drawing in’ that I find well, just a bit depressing. I know from experience it’s going to be cold, it’s going to be wet and later in the season I’m going to have to scrape the ice off my car before I am even yet awake. This is the worst of the Scottish winter.
Fatima is 8 years old, she is a refugee in Kurdistan, to use the politically expressive term, a ‘displaced person’, displaced by the terror of ISIS. Fatima and her toddler sister live without a home, without a bed, without a place of safety to curl into when life is almost too uncertain to be borne. Fatima sleeps on the ground, holding her baby sister to her bony chest, protecting the infant from the worst of the cold. Its October – winter is coming.
I have travelled these last few days with Nabil Omiesh from the Bible Society in Iraq. He tells the story of meeting Fatima and her sister in a refugee camp. She is smiling as she greets him and asks if he has a daughter. “Does she have a bed?” Fatima asks. Nabil thinks of his home, his family, his place of security and comfort, “Yes” he replies. “I am happy,” Fatima responds, “because today I sleep on latex pure green mattress.”
Millions of refugees have fled from other areas of Iraq to Kurdistan, seeking safety from terrorists but arriving with nothing. Nabil speaks of people sleeping in churches, schools, derelict buildings, street corners, anywhere that provides the barest degree of shelter. It’s October and winter is coming, they need more than simply mattresses. they need tents, blankets, clothing, healthcare, toys for the hundreds of thousands of displaced children and crucially trauma care for those who have experienced the worst of atrocities. And they need hope – the hope that is found in the Word of God. These refugees all not alone in the suffering they endure.
Jesus said, ‘Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.’
Matthew 8:20 (NIV)
One day in September God’s blessing gave Fatima a place to lay her head. But now it is October and winter is coming.
Director of National Ministries