An Open Letter of Gratitude to My Kurdish Brothers and Sisters
My visit to Iraq-Kurdistan was more than the excitement and adventure that I have expected. I knew in my heart that it will be a different experience. Despite the world seems to be falling apart before our very eyes I felt confident that my journey will be safe. I know that it may be hard to imagine when all around the globe, nations rages against nation, races battle with one another, adherents of different religions are pitted against one another. But it was completely different in the northern part of Iraq in the peaceful region of Kurdistan where Muslims and Christians respect each others religious faith and belief. Yes, there was peace and harmony in my surroundings the very day I touched down at Erbil International Airport, Iraq. There wasn't a moment that I felt unsafe or scared when I didn't see the host family who was there to meet me. I was calm and feeling excited to meet everyone in Duhok.
It's amazing to feel that it seems I have known you all for many years. When I am with you, I am reminded that we can respect one another and even love one another and share real friendship. And we must. Jesus taught that the way to overcome evil is by doing good, and I am convinced that getting to know you better and respecting you as my brothers and sisters is one of the best things I've done for my own soul and for the cause of peace in the world. Yes, I've been truly blessed by many Muslim friends in my life and you're one of them. Each has brought blessings to me. I thank God for bringing you in my life, you have forever shattered my preconceptions and false assumptions about Muslims. For many good reasons, I believe in my heart that things happen for greater purpose. We all need to have an open doors; otherwise, we see each other as spiritual competitors and treat as potential enemies.
Above photo: Exploring the beautiful nature of Kurdistan. With me are my two lovely young friends, Noor and Solaf. Second photo: Loving the Kurdish way and embracing the unique culture of the Kurds is one of the best things that ever happened to me. An experience in a life time that I will always look back to cherish.
Looking back from my childhood years remembering my folks teaching to me, it gives me a reason to smile and be thankful today of their constant reminders. Growing up from a Christian background, my upbringing was; "be nice to everyone whom you encounter and to never lose sight of the fact that the most important part of your success will be how you treat other people - your family, friends, colleagues and even strangers you meet along the way." I choose you--as my friends and my sisters and my brothers. And I choose to follow Jesus, who's life and teachings compel me to treat everyone with love and respect and kindness regardless of religious faith and ethnic background. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for accepting me in your humble abode. I can't thank you more for your care and hospitality during my stay in Kurdistan. You showed me the true example of love that brings healing and peace to the world. Thank you for making me comfortable like I'm a part of your family. How awesome it is to be accepted as your own. May God continue to bless your homes and families with abundant love and manna from heaven.
As the heat rises to 38 degrees, we drove to visit the ancient holy temple of Lalish, Iraq where the oldest ethnically Kurdish religious community was built for the Êzidî or Yazidi believers. People from all over the world regardless of faith come to visit this sacred place. It's amazing to see that in this part of the globe where conflicts and threats are common, many nationalities from different religious background travel this far to meditate and experience inner peace.