Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Preemptive Love by Jeremy Courtney

Why would someone take his whole family, pack them up, and move from their small town in Texas to Iraq? Jeremy was concerned about the targeted killing of Christians in Iraq, the Kurdish-Arab tension and the Sunni-Shia civil war. But could one family make a difference?

He was focused on helping war widows, concentrating largely on writing grant proposals, when he was asked to help a little Kurdish girl get a needed heart operation. He did what he could, passing on the paperwork. And then he saw that file on top of a stack of others. Children were dying, waiting in line for surgery. That event changed his life.

He stepped out on a long journey of loving first and asking questions later. Jeremy writes, “...we began to experience for the first time how imaginary the distinctions between 'East' and 'West' actually are, how some of the world's most liberal activists are Muslims and its nastiest terrorists are sometimes Christians.” (38)

He tells the stories of others who joined his efforts. They began generating funds by selling klash, the handmade shoes of the Kurds. He created a web site and their business boomed. The money went to pay for heart surgeries. (The business was eventually rolled into the Preemptive Love organization.)

But all was not well. A fatwa was issued against them and their (they were sending kids to Israel for surgery). Families of the children needing surgery were intimidated. They were later able to send children to Turkey but that also caused discontent as Turkey had not helped the Kurds during the 1988 genocide by Saddam. (They were eventually able to bring a surgery team into Iraq.) They were blindsided by a naive funding move. There was a fellow who came into their office with a bag who they later found out was probably planning to blow them up with the bomb in the bag. The office and their home were bugged and subsequent accusations made against them (that they were “missionaries”). One of his team was arrested and threatened.

Jeremy and his team persevered. It is estimated that congenital heart defects are eight times there what they are in the U.S. They have come to the place of being the leading organization in Iraq for children needing heart surgery, having been able to establish surgery training programs in Basra, Najaf and Nasiriyah.

This is an incredible story of one American family making a difference in Iraq, one heart at a time. I really liked the way Jeremy tells the story through his personal experiences – the successes and the struggles.

Jeremy writes that his experiences have exposed how far they are from being the people they want to be. They can only rely on God's love to overcome the hate and help them give out preemptive love. You can visit www.PreemptiveLove.org to find out more about the work.

Jeremy Courtney is the cofounder and executive director of the Preemptive Love Coalition, an international development organization based in Iraq that provides lifesaving heart surgeries to Iraqi children and training for local doctors and nurses. Jeremy, his wife and two children live in Iraq.

Howard Books, 230 pages.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.
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