The Citadel Town of Erbil

The Power of Hope

Four times a week Saeed*, 29, enters the studio and sits before a microphone. An ‘on air’ light glows red, and he begins to speak.

He speaks about hope. It’s compelling stuff in a country where violence, instability, hardship and loss are a daily reality. Communities here have been ripped apart by decades of war, dictatorship and sectarian violence.

Raised as a Christian in Iraq, Saeed is part of a minority. Ninety-seven percent of Iraqis are Muslim. But suffering is a bond they share. Regardless of age, faith or sectarian background, they are Iraqis – and they have all suffered.

So when, on Feba’s FM station in Iraq, Saeed talks about hope, people listen. Hope is a powerful concept, a stranger to many here. But Saeed explains how his hope stems from faith in Jesus; it can surmount the greatest of trials. He should know; he, like his listeners, has suffered.

But his hope remains; anchored by faith.

Legacy of War

Aged just 29, Saeed has lived through two wars. Their legacy continues to affect daily life. High unemployment, poverty and poor services are a consequence of conflict. Sectarian attacks, which ignited during the Iraq War, continue to kill scores and even hundreds of people each month.

Saeed’s family never had their own home. They lived with their grandmother until, one day, an airplane was fired on and crashed down upon the house. They became homeless. They’ve lived as guardians in a home whose owners fled Iraq. Once it is sold, they’ll be homeless once more.

War dictates a brief childhood. With a father compelled to fight under Saddam Hussein, burdens weighed on Saeed from a tender age. When his father was injured and mother fell ill, Saeed became the family’s sole provider.

Saeed had been brought up as a Christian but, by 16, he began to question God. He was angry: why had God brought him into the world? He’d only known suffering. When neighbors questioned his faith, Saeed realized he wasn’t equipped to respond.

The realization led him to give his life to Jesus anew.

A Call to Bring Reconciliation and Hope

Today, Saeed’s hope stems solely from his walk with God. As a Christian, he has also suffered the fear of sectarian attack. But he knows God loves him and Saeed believes he’s called to help bring reconciliation and hope to his country.

Hearing of Feba’s FM station in Iraq, and its vision to reach listeners with just this message, he knew he needed to be involved. In January 2011, Saeed joined the team. He enjoys interacting with listeners, and covers topics affecting many Iraqis – from love and friendship, to marriage and work, addictions, reconciliation and rebuilding the country.

Its broadcasts are transforming the minds and hearts of listeners. In a country ravaged by violence, it’s message of reconciliation and love is bringing hope.

One listener, phoning Saeed during a broadcast, said, “Your station has changed my life. I used to hate Christians, but you have taught me that we can love one another and live in one country. We can be two strong pillars for this country. I had misunderstandings about Christians, but now it is all clear. Please forgive my hatred.”

*Name changed for security

 

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