Though he's never been trained in military strategy or combat, our founder is doing his part to combat the advances of ISIS in Iraq. He's not fighting back with guns or diplomacy though, he's fighting back with healing.
Dr. Thomas returned on November 23 from a 10 day trip to Iraq where he worked together with Kurdish doctors to perform surgeries on wounded soldiers and civilians as a result of ISIS attacks. So far millions of people have fled parts of Iraq and Syria as a result of ISIS advances and nearly 800,000 have fled to the city of Duhok in Northern Kurdistan where Dr. Thomas works and has close relationships.
Dr. Thomas wasn't just there to for medical purposes though, he also went to be the hands and feet of Christ and to share his faith and the love of Christ with those suffering from these attacks.
"We forget how hard it is for them," said Dr. Thomas. "Alot of them didn't choose to be Christians there. Alot of them didn't choose to be Yzidis there, but the persecution there is purely based on somebody picking you out and saying 'Today is not your day.' . . . Alot of times, the people just want to be heard. They just want someone who will hear what they have to say. Many of them are Christians so knowing that I am a fellow Christian from America, I wanted to share with them that same faith."
Karin McCay with KCBD here in Lubbock was kind enough to discuss the trip with Dr. Thomas and provide us with a video of the interview at the bottom of this article.
Thank you all so much for your continued prayers and support as we work together to be a Healing Outreach to People Everywhere!KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock
We are excited to announce our partnership with SnackPak4Kids!
Operation HOPE has partnered with Legacy Farms to support the SnackPak4Kids program at LaMesa Elementary School in Plainview, TX, and we are thrilled for the opportunity to work together to help kids right here in the South Plains.
SnackPak was founded in Amarillo in 2010 as an organization dedicated to ending weekend hunger in West Texas and the South Plains by providing backpacks filled with kid-friendly, nutritional snacks each Friday of the school year. We've seen numerous studies over the years showing the kind of improvement that good nutrition has on a child's ability to learn and we are so excited to be a part of a program like this right here so close to home. We've been deeply invested in similar programs down in Haiti and have always had a deep passion for helping children excel in life. This is the first time this program has been available to kids in Plainview and our hope is that we will be able to work alongside SnackPak to help the program grow and spread to even more communities in our area.
LaMesa Elementary has identified 100+ students in need of nutritional food to help them make it through the weekend and be prepared for school on Monday morning. Because of our partnership with Legacy Farms in support of SnackPak4Kids, those 100+ students will be able to wake up each Monday without the struggles and pains that come from not getting enough to eat over the weekend.
In addition to the financial partnership with SnackPak at LeMesa, Operation HOPE and Legacy Farms will be providing volunteers to help pack the food and deliver it to the schools every week of the school year. If you are interested in volunteering and either live in Plainview or are willing to travel there once or twice a month, please send us an email - firstname.lastname@example.org - and let us know. We would love for anyone willing to partner with us to help take care of these kids.
To learn more about SnackPak4Kids and the work that they do across the state of Texas, click on the logo at the top of this article or visit http://www.snackpak4kids.org.
Haiti October 2014 (Update)
We are proud to report that we had yet another very successful trip to Haiti. As mentioned previously, this was primarilly a fact-finding endeavor and an effort for Operation HOPE to maintiain existing reltionships as well as build new ones with new and potential partners. Of course, although we didn't bring a medical team with us, we were still able to bring over 1000lbs of supplies and eqipment to our missionary partners in Haiti. We were able to visit with Stephen & Autumn Byxbe with the Together We Can Haiti, Pastor Gerard Cesar, Kelsea & Philipson Georges, and a few other new partners with whom we hope to work in the future.
While spending time with Pastor Cesar, we were once again given the privilege of visiting a few of the many schools we support down in Haiti where 1500 children receive Christian education, food, and clothing on a daily basis. After visiting these schools for a few years now, it's encouraging to see that most of the teachers there at the beginning are still there committing their time and efforts towards educating these wonderful kids.
We're excited about some of the new connections we were able to make and look forward to exploring those opportunities further as we continue our work in Haiti. Thanks for all of your prayers and God Bless!
Operation HOPE will be headed back to Haiti October 23-28 to check in and work with the various partners and friends we have in Port Au Prince, Montrouis, and Saint Marc. This will be our 2nd time to travel to Haiti this year and we will also be exploring a number of new, exciting opportunities for us to expand the medical support we've offered for nearly 5 years in Haiti.
In addition to the medical fact-finding that will be going on, We will be bringing a small team of volunteers to help with the Agape House Orphanage which now houses the children previously living at the Celebration Children's Home run by New Vision Ministries.
This will be Operation HOPE's 12th trip to Haiti since the earthquake of 2010. Although we've expanded our circle of support to include missions in the New York as well as right here in the South Plains, we have no intention of slowing down with the work that God has given us to do in Haiti.
Thank you for your continued support and please pray that God protects the team going and helps us to be effective and efficient in our ministry in Haiti.
Third Annual Golf Tournament
Operation HOPE would like to send out a huge thank-you to all who were involved in this year's Operation HOPE Golf Tournament on Monday, Sept 22nd! We had a great time out on the course and were able to give away some great raffle prizes afterwards. This year we raised over $5,000! This has been one of our best golf tournaments so far and we can't wait to see everybody out on the Rawls Course next year.
We are thrilled to announce that we were able to raise a total of $727 for the Bowie Elementary School PTA! The school will be able to use this money for a variety of special events and educational field trips for the students. Our Founder Dr. Thomas stopped by the school to speak at a morning assembly and drop off the check. We're honored to have the opportunity to partner with schools like Bowie Elementary to help their students move forward in life.
The remainder of donations from the event will be used to sponsor the SnackPak4Kids program at LaMesa Elementary School in Plainview, TX. SnackPak was founded in Amarillo in 2010 as an organization dedicated to ending weekend hunger in West Texas and the South Plains by providing backpacks filled with kid-friendly, nutritional snacks each Friday of the school year. We've looked over numerous studies over the years showing the kind of improvement that good nutrition has on a child’s ability to learn and we are so excited to be a part of a program like this right here in the South Plains. Keep an eye out for a full story soon about SnackPak right here on our website.
We would also like to say a big thanks to this year's tournament sponsors!
The Conflict in Iraq
We are thrilled to be able to say that Dr. Thomas made it home safely without any issues or incidents. Although his intention was initially to perform surgery and provide training for Iraqi doctors, he spent most of his time learning more about the situation in Iraq as well as praying and believing with survivors of ISIS attacks.
"I would hear stories like 'Well they beheaded my 3 year old son, and put him on a stake and said 'this is what is going to happen if you don't convert to Islam,''" Dr. Thomas said.
Dr. Thomas said through the bad times, he was able to sit and pray with many of the refugees and was inspired by their ability to keep the faith.
"I saw people's faith," Dr. Thomas said. "And a lot of Christians were displaced and I don't know, when I sit here today, to tell you that I have their faith. I saw thousands of people who forsake everything they ever had just because they did not want to deny Jesus Christ."
Dr. Thomas said he would like to see the U.S. and other developed nations answer the call of those thousands of refugees and stop ISIS before their evil can spread.
"We have to fight evil," Dr. Thomas said. "Because if not, that evil is going to come here. The shores will be attacked by these evil people, because they are bent on death, because when they love death so much then there is nothing to be afraid of."
Thank you all for keeping Dr. Thomas in your prayers.
Meredith Hillgartner from KLBK here in lubbock was kind enough to discuss the trip with Dr. Thomas on camera. The interview can be seen below.
Our Founder, Dr. John Thomas will be making his 15th trip to Erbil, Iraq, this coming Monday 08/18/14. Once again, he plans on training local doctors in new ways to treat patients as well as personally treating them himself. In addition to treating patients who sometimes travel 100+ miles by foot, Dr. Thomas will also be assisting local doctors with the "Tele-medicine" program setup during his previous visit to Iraq. There are hundreds of thousands of refugees in Northern Iraq and the surrounding areas. With the this new technology, nurses and even non-medical workers can help provide treatment for the sick in remote areas such as these refugee camps by connecting patients to doctors here in the US and around the world. It is a ground breaking technology to be sure, and was invented for situations just like the one currently happening in Iraq.
Islamic terrorist group, ISIS, took over much of the nation earlier this month, and has been responsible for killing hundreds of men, women and children, simply because they profess Christ as their Lord. "Under the ISIS control, Christians have very few options. They can convert, pay a fine or die. That is why most of them have decided to flee the country," said Dr. Thomas. "Anything that is contradicting them, they want to erase it. Where I am going we will mainly be taking care of Christians who have been there for two thousand years, living in the same place; now they are being rooted up from their homeland."
Although there is certainly a risk involved in traveling to the Iraq at this time, Dr. Thomas has committed that as long as the airports are open he will be there to help the people of the Middle East. "I think at the end of the day we are all God's children, and it is our job to do the right thing," Dr. Thomas said. "I'm not forced to go there, I am not coerced to go there. It's not a paid trip, but we go there because we believe that it is our duty to be the beacon of light."
In addition to the medical mission that Dr. Thomas always takes part in there in Iraq, he will be meeting with government and UN officials to help provide another perspective on the conflict and hopefully be an aid in developing some sort of plan to provide peaceful resolution.
Please keep Dr. Thomas in your prayers as he makes this journey. We are confident that his work will be efficient and effective and that the love of Christ will be shown through his actions.
2014 Hoop Challenge
During the week of July 26 - August 2, Operation HOPE took a small team of 3 back to Amityville, NY to partner once again with Freedom Chapel International. Although the primary stated goal was to participate in a week-long, faith-based basketball camp, we went to accomplish more than to simply teach kids about basketball. We went to share the love of Christ to kids who had never experinced love. We went to minister to them, to introduce them to Christ, and to let them know that somebody cares about them.
Under the leadership of Pastor Barry Baugh, Hoop Challenge exists to teach kids the fundamentals of basketball while imparting into them the knowledge and love of Christ. Over the last 25 years, Coach Barry has developed a system that emphasizes the parallels between living a life for Christ and living a life of excellence on and off the court. By focussing on things such as discipline, obedience, committment, trust, & love, these kids are given the chance to see life in a new light.
After a full week of basketball camp, all 130+ kids were invited to a special event called "Rock the Block" where they not only received their trophies, but they were offered a much greater gift - the gift of salvation. Rock the Block wasn't just for the Hoop Challenge kids though. The entire community was invited to come out to hear great Christian music, win prizes, and of course, hear the Gospel Message.
We are honored to have been given the chance to work with Freedom Chapel again, and are humbled to be involved in such an effective outreach ministry. Thank you so much to each and every one of you who gave to Operation HOPE. Through your contributions, we have been able to share the love of Christ to kids who may not have otherwise heard.
For more information about Freedom Chapel and their outreach in Long Island, Head over to freedomchapelny.org.