Healing Hearts in the Midst of Iraq's Heartbreak


World View Wednesdays

All of us I am sure have had our eyes trained on Iraq in recent days and our hearts broken by what is happening there. We all know that families in Iraq are experiencing unspeakable horrors and many of us are at a loss as to what can stop the hemorrhaging.

A member loyal to the ISIL waves an ISIL flag in Raqqa

A member loyal to the ISIL waves an ISIL flag in Raqqa
Photo credit: Reuters

We are all aware that Iraq’s resources have been annihilated in the wake of war, sanctions and more war in the last ten years. But did you know that for years there has been a backlog of children waiting for life-saving heart surgery in that country? A problem that results from the utter destruction of Iraq’s systems resulting from war and subsequent sanctions, combined with these three factors that contribute to a higher instance of congenital heart defects among Iraq’s children.

It is terrible to consider that on top of having to survive the threat of war at every turn, there are Iraqi parents holding children in their arms right now knowing that they will die soon without the needed surgery. And knowing that the current worsening conditions in Iraq make that prospect even more grim.

Well, it would anyway, if the Preemptive Love Coalition did not exist. But it does. And it is doing this.

they are providing life-saving surgery to children in Iraq, even now in the midst of all that is happening. In fact, their team is still there on the ground, pursuing peace and hope for Iraq by loving preemptively as war rages and hatred threatens to once again decimate Iraq’s people, resources and systems.

Last week, the organization’s founder, Jeremy Courtney, sent out this urgent appeal:

Dear friend,

In 7+ years, we have never made an urgent appeal, but we are today.

I’m writing to ask you to stand with us, dig in your heels, and save lives inside Iraq.

The rapid advance of ISIS eliminated our ability to serve children in certain parts of the country. But there’s hope.

Our highest impact program is still saving children from all corners of Iraq.

Today we need your help. The violence across the country has made our work more important than ever as displaced families continue to seek lifesaving surgeries for their children. For many, our doctors are their only option.

We’ve provided 180 surgeries for children in 2014 already! But there are still 20+ children we have promised to serve in the next two weeks, and we need your help.

It only takes $250 right now for our Remedy doctors to save an Iraqi child…


Doctors on one of Preemptive Love Coalition’s remedy missions
Photo credit: Preemptive Love Coalition

Preemptive Love Coalition’s remedy is two-fold, it brings in doctors to get the need surgeries done, while Iraqi teams work alongside them and learn the procedures so that they will be able to begin performing them independently. While all the world seems to  be watching Iraq  crumble, they are there, on the ground, building futures for Iraqi children who might otherwise have none.

Surely, this is the path to peace.


An Iraqi father and his child after surgery
Photo Credit: Preemptive Love Coalition

I had the pleasure to meet Preemptive Love Coalition’s founder, Jeremy Courtney last year and here the story of how he and his wife Jessica ended up in Iraq, and of the one little girl who stole his heart and drew him in to saving her own heart and those of hundreds of other children. It is a breathtaking testimony to what God can enable us to do when we say yes and of the power of love to persevere even in the most difficult circumstances.

You can help the Preemptive Love Coalition by buying Jeremy’s book and reading the story. I promise that you will be the better for it. Or you can donate to the urgent appeal to get those kids who are ready and waiting for surgery NOW funded while the work is still able to be done.

Jeremy ends his appeal letter with this sentiment:

“If Iraq has any hope, it is in those who love their neighbors and their enemies. Your donation of any amount has never been more powerful to save lives and wage peace.”

Let us be the enemy lovers and the peace wagers today. Let us undo violence by loving preemptively. Let us move our hearts that break for Iraq today to heal hearts the hearts that hold the key to Iraq’s future, its children.

P.S. I have learned and understood more about what is happening in Iraq through reading the organization’s blog than I ever have from any news outlet. It is well worth your time to read their posts on the current crisis.

Copyright 2014, Colleen Mitchell


About Author

Colleen Mitchell is a Catholic wife and mom to five sons here on earth, one little saint she held for a brief three months, and four she has yet to meet. After the death of their sixth son, Bryce, she had her husband founded St. Bryce Missions, seeking a way to use their experience of grief, loss and the tender mercy of God in the midst of it to bring glory to God and serve His Church. She currently serves a foreign missionary to the Cabecar peoples in the rural Chirripo mountains of Costa Rica and hopes soon to be bringing Christ's love to the Church in Tanzania, Africa as well. She is passionate about loving the poor, living the call of the Gospel radically, living with the Eucharist as the source and summit of all her endeavors and becoming a saint. Not wanting to be a lonely saint, she hopes her written words will encourage others to join her on the journey. Colleen blogs Blessed Are The Feet

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