New Year Reflections: 2016 - A Year of Grace!

Looking back at all that we have been part of in 2016, I would not have believed you had you told me at the start of the year. It's been another year of terror, war and trials for so many living here in the Middle East. But there are signs of hope everywhere and we are called to be agents of grace wherever we find ourselves. Here are some thoughts from yours truly...

I pray that whatever your 2016 was like, that you were able to drink deep into the unrelenting grace of Jesus. Let's raise our glasses to another gift from above to live out our lives knowing it will be filled with grace and great things to come if we are brave enough to believe it and receive it with gratitude!

 

Tim BuxtonComment
Fall & Christmas 2016 Update is Out Now!

Another year has come and gone and we are more excited than ever to be serving here in Kurdistan, Northern Iraq. As we look back at all that has happened in 2016 we are amazed by the incredible provision of God amidst a very turbulent and often times tragic year. 

 

Thank you for standing with us in prayer, financial support and friendship. We have so much to be thankful for during the last 3 months here in Iraq. This Fall has marked the beginning of incredible partnerships on the ground to bolster our efforts to serve those in greatest need. The battle for Mosul was launched, our new refugee school was opened and we began work on a brand new housing project for 20 Yazidi families that have survived captivity from ISIS. 

Do join us in praying for peace and joy to flood the hearts of those who have suffered so much this year. Our prayer is that you and your family will feel the incredible love of Jesus as we celebrate his humble birth. We hope that you enjoy our quarterly update and look forward to all that 2017 has in store. 

Tim BuxtonComment
Be The World To One

Every Wednesday a team of ladies head to our Akoyan micro-camp to spend time with the women and children there. There's no telling what their impact is on the lives of these Yazidis. 

Kaitlyn (@k_drenckpohl) has been serving with us here in Kurdistan for 9 months now. We are so grateful to have her as part of our team. Wherever she goes, she brings life, joy and smiles - just like the ones seen on these little girls. Never underestimate the impact you can have on just one person.  📸 @missjessieparks

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No More Excuses To Play

These are some of the finest young men I know. Always polite and greet me with a warm smile every time I see them. They are incredibly resilient after all they have endured since fleeing Sinjar Mountain.

I'm ashamed to admit that I owe these guys a game of football. It's been too long since I've hit the pitch to play some six-a-side with these strapping young Yazidi boys. Partly because it's been super hot, but mostly because I know I'll barely survive. These guys sure know how to play and I reckon they could all make the national team if given the chance. Thankfully the summer is over and I'll have no more excuses to delay honoring my promise. Oh, and you should see the view from the soccer field that we play on @therefugeinitiative micro-camp in Rwandz. I'll show you next time we play. 📸 @missjessieparks @therefugeinitiative @rescueiraq

Tim BuxtonComment
Mommy's Boy

This kid is such a mommy's boy... and it's no wonder why. Day in and day out Sarah proves to be the most incredible mother and wife on this planet. Educating our kids like a boss, putting seriously delicious gourmet meals on the table, and loving our family oh so well. She is a loyal and ever giving friend to so many. With her breathtaking beauty and selfless love she reminds me each day that I married way way up! Thanks for making our lives in Kurdistan one great adventure; your daily sacrifices make it a dream.

Tim BuxtonComment
Carl is Back To Implement Trauma Care

A little over a year ago, we had a great couple days hanging out with these guys, visiting our refugee camps and drinking far too much tea!

Dr. Robi & Carl Gaede have been working hard to get the groundbreaking Empower and GROW trauma care programs translated into Arabic and Kurdish for widespread use throughout Northern Iraq. Carl has now moved to Kurdistan with his family and are busy getting settled. Pray for they as they begin to implement the trauma care programs at our micro-camps in the coming months.

@drrobi_s @therefugeinitiative @tutapona

Tim BuxtonComment
Our Team of Local Legends

One of the things that we are so thankful for @therefugeinitiative is the incredible leadership, friendship and partnership we enjoy with these remarkable men. 

Kak Krmanj, the Mayor - a humble and devoted leader of those he serves. Kareem, the Doctor - smart, industrious and incredibly generous. Hersh, the Fixer - the hardest working, multi-talented guy in Kurdistan. We owe so much of our success to these local Kurds who are making daily sacrifices to ensure that those without a helper, find help. We are so proud of them and humbled that they are part of our team and our families.  

📸@halleproject

Tim BuxtonComment
Meet Bishop Moses

Built in 361AD, Mar Mattai Monastery still stands unshakably crafted into the side of Mount Alfaf overlooking the city of Mosul. It was an incredible honor to visit there again and spend time with Bishop Musa (Moses).

In the midst of all the chaos this Christian monastery has stood as a testimony of hope and refuge on the frontline.

After learning about the history and heart of the church, we were graced with a tour inside the inner sanctuary and treated with a reading from the book of Matthew in both Greek and Aramaic.

Although the number of monks and priests living at the monastery have decreased because of recent hostilities, there are dozens of Christian families that were forced to flee from Mosul that have found refuge within its walls. 

Tim BuxtonComment
Summer eNewsletter Out Now

There are just so many ways to describe our life in Kurdistan, but "dull" is definitely not one of them. Ever since we moved to the Kurdistan region of Northern Iraq a little over two years ago, we have experienced some the most enriching times of our lives. Sure we have had our fair share of challenges, but nothing like the challenges endured by the incredibly resilient people we find ourselves serving and living amongst.

We are back in the thick of the action after taking a break in the US this summer visiting family and friends. We also traveled quite a bit, raising awareness and support for the work we are involved with here in Iraq.

Now, with the battle to retake Mosul from ISIS looming and the anticipation that a further one million people will be displaced, there is a real sense that we are living on the frontline. We are more convinced than ever that God has placed us here to respond and serve those in need through shelter, education and holistic care. 

We have lots to share in this Summer 2016 edition of the flickerflame eNewsletter, and some exciting ways you can get involved. Also, we have a new flickerflame.org website and blog with the latest updates and images of our life and work in Kurdistan.

Enjoy and thanks for journeying with us... Tim, Sarah, Elliana, Charlie & Lily xoxox

Tim BuxtonComment
Pray for Our Peshmerga

Last week a few of us had the privilege of sharing a meal with these fine Peshmerga soldiers. They are holding the frontline against ISIS, enduring our protection and fighting for freedom I behalf of the entire world. Most are from my home town and many of them also happen to be my neighbors.

I got the sobering news that ISIS shelled this outpost - just 300 yards from this tent - that we were visiting on Wednesday, killing 1 Peshmerga and injuring 3 others.

Any day they will be taking the fight to ISIS as they make plans to recapture Mosul. Friends, they are in need of your prayers.

Tim BuxtonComment
First Day Of School

School has officially begun in the Buxton home. I'm so proud of my amazing wife who has worked so hard to put together an incredible learning environment for our kids here in Kurdistan. 

We are so stoked to have Ingrid with us from Norway who will be helping Sarah teach the children and volunteering at the new @therefugeinitiative school for refugees. #lifeinkurdistan #firstdayofschool

Tim BuxtonComment
City On A Hill

Mar Mattai Monastery. Built in 361AD, today it still stands crafted into the side of a mountain overlooking the city of Mosul. 

It was an incredible honor to visit there again and spend time with Bishop Musa (Moses). In the midst of all the chaos this Christian monastery has stood as a testimony of hope and refuge. #cityonahill #lifeinkurdistan

Tim BuxtonComment
Hanging Out With Bob Goff

It was such a blast hanging out with @bobgoff the last few days here in Kurdistan. 

Along the way we spent time with some remarkable individuals... the Mayor of Soran who carries the weight of the entire city on his shoulders; the Bishop of a 4th century Christian Monastery that overlooks Mosul; Army Generals and Peshmerga fighting on the frontline against ISIS; Patriarchal leaders now living in refugee camps; and the Spiritual Leader of the Yazidis - a people who are literally fighting for their survival. It was humbling to witness the hope in the eyes of each person we met, despite enduring such great adversity. Each possessed a courage that gave fear it's marching orders. What an inspiring few days. What can I say... I 🎈 Bob! #lovedoes

Tim BuxtonComment
Meet Rashoul

Meet Rashoul, the family leader at the Rwandz Camp built by @therefugeinitiative 

He carries a heavy burden to care for the 42 Yazidi families within the micro-camp. He is always kind and greets me with a big smile each time I visit. I often wonder what he must be thinking, knowing that so many are looking to him for leadership.

Tim BuxtonComment
Lily And The Mayor

I think this image captures the heart of our friend Kak Karmnj, who also happens to be the mayor of our town. He's an incredible leader, who has always put the needs of his people before his own. He is loved by everyone, adults a children alike. Our own Lily had so much fun playing in the water with him at his village home. I think you can tell lot about a leader when you see the way they welcome little children.

But Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven."

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