From War to Peace

Before and After the Reunion: Pastoral Care in a Time of War

After the Reunion

The airport hugs and yellow ribbons paint a deceptively sanguine picture of veterans returning home: the worry is over; they're home alive; let the celebration begin! All of this is true, in part. However, too soon after the joyous reunion begins a process that is usually more difficult than coping with the separation. While away from each other, everyone mostly tried to survive and muddle through the emotional and spiritual challenges from living on different continents in unfamiliar circumstances. Now, all that was left behind before the war – good and bad – and all that happened in between will have to be sorted out. Many vets and their families find that the adjustment returning home takes longer and is more taxing than the months or years apart.

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The War and Pastoral Care of Soldiers, Military Families, and Chaplains

Written by Rev. John Gundlach

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Some recommendations on what the UCC and Disciples can do to address the situation of Iraqi refugees and internally displaced

Recommendation:  Iraqi refugees being resettled in the United States should be offered pastoral care by UCC and Disciples congregations.

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Christians in Iraq since the American Invasion in 2003

Before 2003, Iraqi Christians comprised about 5 percent of the overall population of Iraq, or between 650,000 and 1 million of roughly 24 million.  (Some anecdotally suggest that in the late 1950s and early 1960s, the percentage was as high as 20 %.) For hundreds of years, they lived with Iraqi Muslims and with Iraqis of other religions and sects in a harmonious and cooperative way.  There were, of course, historical exceptions.  However, the political situation and social stability for all Iraqis deteriorated gradually after the year 2003 until it became what it is today endangering the lives of all citizens, as if it is following an organized plan in this direction.  This deterioration has led to an absence in security visible in explosions, assassinations, kidnapping and forced migration, and has resulted in the aggravation of unemployment, and rising of prices and a high cost of living.  Consequently, the daily social and security situation deteriorated for all citizens, including the Christians.

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One Iraqi Family's Journey

One Iraqi family's journey of 500 heartbreaking miles began with a simple gift from an American soldier. A U.S. patrol in the Baghdad neighborhood of Mansur stopped to see why so many cars were parked by the family's house, a fairly common inspection in a city plagued by security problems. Once the patrol's leader learned there was no cause for alarm, he even offered the family's daughter a birthday present.

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A Story from Damascus of an Iraqi Family

Sami and his family lived all their life in Basra, a city in southern Iraq, until the US invasion.  Sami, like many Iraqis, thought that this would be a war for the liberation of Iraq, as the US and their allies called it.

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An Assessment of the Iraqi Refugee Situation in Syria

The case of Iraqi refugees in Syria is very complicated because accurate figures are not available in terms of exact number of refugees, their demographics and economic circumstances. Estimates vary between 800,000 and 1.5 million Iraqis in Syria. There are an estimated 815,000 Iraqi refugees living in Damascus and its suburbs.  Many refugees came with significant amounts of cash which they were able to invest. Others came with little money, hoping for a speedy return to Iraq, while others came with empty pockets hoping to find jobs in Syria, or to gain third country resettlement.

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The Middle East Council of Churches and its programs serving Iraqi Refugees in Jordan

The Middle East Council of Churches (MECC) has offered relief to Iraqis through the Emergency Relief Services (ERS) Program since the mid-1990s when Iraq was under international sanctions. Many of those who fled Iraq during Desert Storm [the war to liberate Kuwait] and the period of sanctions that followed went to Jordan.  Their needs were great and the MECC responded.  During the current war and occupation, Jordan again has accepted Iraqi refugees, and the MECC has worked with the churches in Jordan to provide the necessary relief to them.  The following is a summary of the kinds of work the MECC has been undertaking in partnership with local churches. [-editor]

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A Call for Peace, Reconciliation, and Action: Reflections from Egypt

Conditions in Iraq and the surrounding regions

There is a severe disintegration process taking place among the various ethnic groups and denominations and religions existing in Iraqi society. This process is an ongoing one that might not return to normal even after the war situation comes to an end. This disintegration process is accompanied by terrorist attacks, killing, destruction, and civilian horror. Not to mention that helpless civilians are sometimes pushed and used in the implementation of some of the terrorist attacks. We would like to refer to the two suicide bombings that took place in two Iraqi markets, where two mentally retarded women (Mongolians) were used in the operation to achieve objectives that one cannot classify as religious, racial, or political; and that are far beyond the understanding of two disadvantaged creatures. Such an incident put us all as Arabs in a very bad situation.

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The Impact of the Iraq War on the Middle East; or, a Call to Partnership

While the American and international debate about the necessity to invade Iraq, to punish and change its oppressive regime and to eliminate its potential danger to the outside world carries on, the physical, moral, and historical Iraqi and non-Iraqi cost escalates and the grim consequences taint the globe.

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