by Marty Benton, Vision Street Ministries
Our story begins in the fall of 2004 when a church in greater Atlanta adopted the Kurds, who primarily live throughout regions of the Middle East, as an unreached, unengaged people group (UUPG). Considering the number of Kurds living throughout the world (40 million), our journey began by traveling to the Kurdistan region of Iraq to discern our way forward for evangelism, seed sowing, church planting, and outreach to the Kurds.
At that time, we did not know one Kurd who was a believer. During my first visit in the region, we prayed for God to reveal a man of peace in villages we traversed. The living conditions of the multitudes of Kurds was very poor and humble. The ravages of war and conflict demonstrated itself in the attitudes of the people by their downcast and seemingly hopeless situation. Yet as we went from village to village, God showed us people who were seeking the answers for life and future hope. The sharing of the gospel through our interpreters encouraged us. We saw the Holy Spirit take the seeds of truth we were sharing and cause conversations to take place for future results, which would make an eternal difference for the Kingdom.
Fast forward to 2019. We revisited the same region and now there is fruit being manifested. Lives are being changed through the distribution of God’s Word and intentional evangelism that began on our first visit. A people group that was unknown to our initial intended outreach was the Yazidi Kurds, who live in the Kurdistan area. This people group has about 1.2 million population worldwide, with a concentration of more than 60% in the region we are serving. They have faced extinction more than 74 times in their history. The most recent genocide effort was from ISIS in August of 2014 as they invaded the Nineveh Plains and the Yazidis fled to Mount Sinjar. Through the US military providing timely bombing of the enemy, the Yazidis were spared and the migration from their homes to safety opened the door for our field partners to begin ministry to them. By listening to their stories and providing hope through the gospel, we began to see lives changed. The need to provide God’s Word to these new Christians and to have a continued witness of truth to families that needed Jesus was plain to see.
Through the counsel of a passionate minister of the gospel toward the Yazidi people group, we were asked to print a white-cover New Testament in Arabic that could be used specifically for this people group. Their religious tradition said their “Holy Book” had a white cover and should never be left on the ground. The very appearance of our NT gave immediate acceptance to the people to whom we were witnessing and ministering. As a result, people came to know the Jesus of the Bible and lives were being changed as a result. By late 2018, the first printing of the New Testaments had been almost exhausted and the need surfaced to print more. Our partner in ministry, Vision Street Ministries out of Woodstock, GA picked up this challenge.
The visit to Iraq last month revealed the harvest of souls coming to Jesus and the continued sowing of the seed of God’s Word to the Yazidi people group. Several young leaders have been discipled and are now involved in outreach ministry to their people group. The witness of the white-cover New Testaments continues to gain momentum and God is using our investment to make an eternal difference. As future opportunities are presented to once again print and distribute God’s Word in regions of the world in which we partner, may God bring to our remembrance the multiplication of souls coming into the Kingdom, because we said “Yes!” to participate.