Over Christmas, Tim Darms, one of our Charleston engineers, traveled to Mosul, Iraq, with Samaritan’s Purse to implement a safe water treatment system to serve their mobile hospital. Safely back home, he took some time to write about his experience and the blessing of living out God’s calling to love both our friends and those who persecute us.
If you are not familiar with Water Mission, we are a Christian, engineering ministry that designs drinking water systems in developing countries and in disaster areas. In our work, we often come alongside and partner with Samaritan’s Purse.
In early December, my boss asked if I’d be willing to go to Mosul, Iraq, for a month over Christmas. He went on to explain that I would be going to design and construct the water and sewer infrastructure for a Samaritan’s Purse field hospital outside of Mosul. We had to design and build a hospital compound that would provide housing, lodging, and laundry facilities for over 200 staff members. After a brief conversation with my wife, I told my boss that I was able to go.
“The media reports make it look like complete death and destruction, when in reality the situation is much more complicated. There are still hundreds of thousands of people living within Mosul – they are still eating and living. At any moment that could change – and for the families we were working with, it did…”
– Tim Darms
My time in Iraq designing and building the hospital was an incredible time. It was a privilege to be a part of something restorative in a place of such desperation. Previously, the closest trauma hospital was a 3 to 5-hour ambulance drive away. With the new field hospital, lifesaving trauma care was only 15 minutes outside Mosul.
The first day I was there, there were two big explosions and you could see the mushroom clouds. I carried the mentality through most of the trip that it was the good guys blowing up the bad guys. But as the hospital opened, I realized that wasn’t the case. I had dismissed it as a one-sided war which was foolish and ignorant.
In reality, it is a war on families. Often, the people that came into the hospital weren’t complete families – they were portions of families. Snipers like to pick off children because it draws people out as they try to save them.
One woman’s daughter was shot, but luckily she was able to safely go out and get her. She picked up her daughter and carried her across the Tigress river to the hospital. She showed up at the hospital soaking wet, carrying her wounded daughter in her arms.
“My wife had some fear about me being there, and I would remind her that safety is an illusion and God is sovereign. Not to say that doing God’s will means you’re always safe – that isn’t actually true. My goal was to honor him, and if he brought me home then he brought me home. ‘All things work together for the good of those who love him’ (Romans 8:28) didn’t mean I would be coming home. It meant God would be glorified.”
– Tim Darms
During my time in Iraq, I worked closely with two Iraqi engineers; one was a Muslim, one was a Christian. The Muslim engineer and I became good friends. The Lord blessed our conversations and our time together lead to multiple scripture-filled conversations about the state of the world, sin, the consequences of sin, and forgiveness.
My last day in Iraq, the Muslim engineer drove me back to the city from the hospital. While we drove, we reflected on our month together. He said, “Tim, I have watched how all of you have worked on the hospital, and I can see that you are not working for the mission of Samaritan’s Purse, I can see that you are all working on the mission of Jesus.” That is Who I want both my work and my life to be about.
In addition to providing lifesaving care for hundreds of men, women, and children who were victims of ISIS, the hospital also cared for wounded members of ISIS. If there was one thing about this hospital that exemplified Christ’s love above anything else, I believe that it was this.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:43-48
It was a privilege I wouldn’t trade for the world – getting to use the gifts and skills God has given me in one of the darkest places in the world. Please continue to pray for the hospital. It is still a very dangerous place. Please pray that God would surround the hospital with angels and that those coming into the hospital would not only be healed physically but spiritually as well. Also, please pray for my Muslim friend, that the Lord would continue to work in him.
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