Yearly update and Giving Tuesday 2021

Dear Friends and Supporters of Nasarean,

Another year has gone by and we all know it has been difficult. The virus has continued to cause so many problems for so many, especially for our dear brothers and sisters in the Middle East. The good news is that thanks to your continued generosity, we have managed to continue to grow and support our mission, helping start small family businesses, and in particular, we are now well established in Lebanon. Although virtually never covered in the mainstream media, the situation in Lebanon is truly disastrous; it is really a failed State, with no fuel, little medicine, and power and other infrastructure is failing. The fact that families are willing to stay thanks to our support is the only hope for the future. I recently spoke with a former Lebanese politician, a fine man who resigned because of the corruption, and he told me that what we are doing is more important than anything else, especially because it is on a small scale and avoids the dangers of corruption and waste common with so many large NGO’s or international agencies.

We have also managed to continue to start new businesses in Iraq and Syria. The situation in Syria is still dire, due to the ongoing war, the re-emergence of ISIS and the terrible effect of international sanctions on the ordinary people. Lebanon’s collapse has also had a dramatic effect on Syria. I am in weekly contact with our friend the Melkite Catholic Bishop in Damascus, who tells me how serious the situation is and how badly they need help. Once more, when a family is given the chance to stay and start a business, a little ray of light appears in a dark situation. In Iraq, although the situation had been calmer, the attempts by the Shia militias controlled by Iran to drive out the Christians by demographic and economic pressure continues and has recently worsened since the elections. Once again, I am told by our friends there, particularly our dear friend Fr. Behnam Benoka, the parish priest of Bartella, known as the “Iraqi Fr. Ben,” that families will all try and leave if there is no work. 

We have all seen the terrible scenes of refugees at European borders - Nasarean gives hope and a chance for the Christian population to stay - all thanks to your continued generosity. The amazing news is that, since we started in September, 2014, we have managed to raise $397,000! As you know, before Nasarean became a 501c3 in 2016, we donated nearly $100,000 of that money raised to Aid to the Church in Need USA, to feed, house and give refuge to the Christians driven out by ISIS. One of the main reasons I first went to Iraq in early 2015, was to see that the help was getting through.

The other part of Nasarean’s work, which I always remind people is equally as important as the aid, is our advocacy work. Despite the problems with Covid, this Summer and Fall allowed me to speak in a number of parishes and, as always, to continue the work in the media to try to raise the consciousness of the persecution. I am also in negotiation with a number of bishops for the creation of Shrines to pray for the persecuted - more news on that soon. I hope, if possible, to get in to Iraq and Syria within weeks - please pray for that mission, it is still extremely difficult and not without danger.

So we come to this year’s Giving Tuesday appeal! This year we want to focus on one family business in Iraq, because it will employ a large number of people, but requires a larger donation than we normally give.
The business is the construction and demolition business of Majid and his three brothers in the town of Qaraqosh, Iraq. When ISIS invaded, they had to flee for three years, with only the clothes they were wearing. On their return, their house had been damaged, and ISIS had stolen all their equipment. They started again with simple equipment. Today this business is the only source of income for Majid and his brothers and their families - a total of 15 people. They also employ up to 15 day workers - so a total of nearly 30 people are being supported. However if they do not get proper equipment, there is no future employment for the families and they will all attempt to leave. This year we want to raise $20,000 to help this business and keep 30 people in their hometown, the ancient Christian town of Qaraqosh on the Nineveh Plain.
Due to the incredible generosity of one donor, we have already received $10,000, so any help you can give to make our target will be greatly appreciated!

Please God, I will be able to visit with the families in Qaraqosh in the next weeks.

Thank you again for all your support, especially our regular donors - Mass is said for you every week - and thank you most of all for your prayers, for me and for our persecuted brethren. May God bless you and your families!

Fr. Ben