#TellHisStory: A Story That We Don’t Want to Read — But We Have To

May 19, 2015 | 42 comments

It was nearly midnight.

In the dark, all I could think about was a nine-year-old girl. I could see her in my mind — dark-brown hair, eyes the shape of saucers, dirty bare feet. She stood motionless as the shadow of evil hollowed out her hope.

Behind her, stood a figure, who was painted the colors of a storm. His hands were curled into the shape of destruction.

And I knew for sure who the child was. She was an Iraqi girl. Girls who are the ages of our daughters are living our worst nightmare while most of the world sleeps on.

I read about girls like her yesterday. I read Ann’s story, a true story about the innocents who are snatched away from their mothers at age nine, stripped bare and sold at slave bazaars.

The girls are stolen and sold by ISIS.

ISIS: The word that sounds like the hiss of a snake.

This isn’t some hoax. This isn’t something you have to double-check on Snopes to see if it’s really happening. It is happening. 

My friend Ann — farmer’s wife, mother of six, advocate for human dignity, and follower of Christ — went to Iraq. She met with the mothers of young girls like the saucer-eyed girl in my midnight mind. Ann took her red pen and her notebook, and she ventured into Iraq. She came back with a story that we don’t want to read. But we have to.

Ann went looking for the nine-year-old girls. Here’s what she found: 

” … there aren’t many nine year olds Yezidi girls here, among these families displaced and fleeing from ISIS.

There are 5 year olds, 7 year olds, but — I looked for them: there are no nine year olds. 

Nine year old Yezidi and Christian girls can show up in headlines: Impregnated. Held, taken, violated and discarded. Sides round and swollen. Sent back to shame their communities. Pregnant little girls with dolls still in their hands. While we are having our wheaties and reading the day’s news.

ISIS sells nine year old girls in slave bazaars.

Click away, turn the other way if you want, but those girls are wild to turn and escape — and they can’t. They are categorized. Stripped. And shipped naked. Examined and distributed. Sold and passed around like meat. Livestock.

You can walk into any mall and buy a pair of NIKE running shoes for what they are buying a Christian or Yezidi girl from 1-9 years of age — $172 dollars. And she’s yours. For whatever you want, for as long as you want, to make do whatever you want. Sit with that. Yeah, we’re all done living in a world where a pair of shoes can last longer, have more worth, be treated with more value, than a fondled, raped and discarded 9 year-old-girl.

Please read the entire piece on Ann Voskamp’s by clicking here. 

Illustrative photo of a refugee in Iraq. (Photo: © Reuters)

Illustrative photo of a refugee in Iraq. (Photo: © Reuters)

Who can sleep after reading something like that?

We have two girls — ages 13 and 10. Last night, when I wept at midnight, our girls were sleeping. They had been tucked in, prayed for. There were clean clothes in laundry baskets, and the breakfast orders for the next morning had already been made. Both wanted waffles.

This morning, we found an old Kleenex box for Anna’s science project. I put together plates of blueberry muffins for a bake sale. Lydia headed off to school early, for marching band practice. The only measurable threat that hung in our air? Whether someone would get picked on at recess.

This morning, some nine-year-old girl halfway around the world was taken away from her mother. I hugged my girls tighter than I have in a long time.

Anna and I sat at the computer, a few minutes before the bus came, and together we composed emails — fast as we could — to our U.S. senators and our representative. We clicked “donate” on a nonprofit organization that is helping families terrorized by ISIS.

And we prayed.

These are the things we know to do.  

We are NOT POWERLESS. None of us is powerless. 

Today, there are real people with real souls, who are hurting and crying out, “Is there anybody? Somebody?” The answer is us. THIS body. The CHRIST body. We can be the ones. We must be the ones. If anybody can answer the cry for help, it ought to be those of us who are indwelt with the same power that resurrected Jesus from the dead.

We, the Body, spend an unusual amount of time fighting against one another. But our real opposition isn’t the guy in the church across town, or the woman who believes a little differently than we do. The real opposition came to steal, kill and destroy. He is prowling around, looking for someone to devour. His prey includes nine-year-old girls in Iraq. 

And the only way to defeat *that* opposition is to take our positions. Together. This can’t happen anymore. Not on our watch.

This is our time.

#thisisourtime #notonourwatch

“Stand together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith.” Philippians 1:27


How to Respond

Christians are deeply moved and saddened by stories like the ones that Ann tells. We naturally ask: “But what can we do?”

We are called to action. We are not powerless. Here are tangible ways you can help.

1 – Harness social media.

If you have a Facebook account, you have more power than you know to effect change. Share Ann’s post on Twitter and Facebook. Feel free to share this post and our ideas on how to respond. Or, write your own response on your blog or Facebook. Carry these atrocities out into the light. Don’t underestimate your ability.

2 – Give to the Preemptive Love Coalition.

This nonprofit is on the ground, in the trenches, with the very people being tormented by ISIS. Donate by clicking here. $25 can provide emergency relief. $100 can put 10 displaced kids back to school. $1,000 can empower a woman to start her new business.

3 – Donate through Samaritan’s Purse.

The organization is helping victims of ISIS by providing clothing and shelter, implementing water programs, and ministering to persecuted Christians. Donate by clicking here.

4 – Tell your church.

Ask your church mission board if they’d be willing to donate. Ask your denomination what they are doing to support relief efforts of those being persecuted by ISIS.

5 – Call or write your Senators and Representatives.

Let them know this issue is important to you. And let them know you’re praying for them as they make decisions that affect real souls.

6 – Pray.

We feel so powerless, and sometimes we say, “I don’t know else what I can do but pray.” Don’t underestimate the power of your prayers. You are unleashing the power of God.

7 – Pay attention.

Keep informed. When we are informed, we are better equipped to act. When we turn away from the hard stories, we die of ignorance.



Hey Tell His Story crew! It’s always a joy to gather here every week. The linkup goes lives each Tuesday at 4 p.m. (CT). If you would use the badge on your blog, found here, that would be great. And if you would visit at least one other blogger in the link-up and encourage them with a comment, that would be beautiful! Be sure to check the sidebar later. I’ll be featuring one of you over there! Karrilee, a long-time contributor to #TellHisStory, is our latest featured writer. Her contribution is a lovely poem that will draw you deeper into the heart of Christ. (To be considered as our featured writer, be sure to use our badge or a link to my blog from your post. 🙂 )

xo Jennifer

by | May 19, 2015 | 42 comments


  1. Marjie Scheib

    I too, spent the wee hours of dawn praying for those girls. In my minds eye I just kept seeing black waves crashing over them but I fought it and instead envisioned white waves of light pressing back the darkness and all of those who have been slain wearing white robes and those displaced, the white light of Love caressing their cheeks as they slept, or tried to sleep.
    I kept asking myself, what do those mother’s think about- how, in the middle of the night dark visions flash through their minds…
    Through my tears I cried out “Lord, I just want to love them” and He showed me that His love is for the capture’s too.
    This is so hard………..

  2. Tiffany

    It simply breaks my heart and I know it grieves the Lord tremendously. Home should be safe – for these dear girls, for all of us – but then, this isn’t home is it? Stories like this make it all the more evident and draw my heart closer to heaven. I’m eager to help and pray – I can stand to do more of both. I also want to start a conversation in my home – sit with my 12 year old son and let him know why we are so tremendously blessed to tuck him into his bed and wake up in the morning together.

  3. Jacque Watkins

    Heart with you. With you, Ann, and the rest. Thankful for your voice and passion and action and the work of so many to make a difference..xoxo

  4. Mindy Whipple

    Thank you, thank you for giving some direction to get us moving from grief to action.

  5. Mary

    I love your call to action and practical ways to take the next step in awareness. My heart breaks with every news story and sometimes it feels like too much but passivity is not the answer. I’m starting with prayer and moving forward in faith as to next steps.

  6. Susan

    Jennifer, I am so encouraged to see bloggers write on these hard things. My blog post tomorrow links to yours and Ann’s posts. We can all do something.

  7. Rebekah

    I read Ann’s piece last night and it completely broke me. Thank you so much for this follow up that reminds us that each voice CAN make a difference. I fall too easily into being overwhelmed and overcome by the enormity of this. Thank you for continuing to tell this story.

  8. Bev @ Walking Well With God

    At last…someone else sharing this message. I work with a small Christian school in Pakistan which takes in mostly orphans – many of them the girls at the age of which you speak so that they will not be taken hostage by ISIS. We also take in little boys before they can be brainwashed in jihad seminaries. This small school sits in the epicenter of evil…a light in the dark corner of the world. If it’s ok with you I invite readers to come to the “Missions” tab on my blog to see how they can help in a tangible way – the “least of these” who are truly in evil and harm’s path. Thank you for sharing the unspeakable that needs to be shared!!
    Redeemer Christian School under “Missions”
    Redeemer Christian School under “Missions”

    • dukeslee

      Bev! I had no idea that you were involved in this! I will check this one out. Thank you!

  9. Kamea Hope

    I read Ann’s post last night, and the reality of what these families are dealing with devastated me. This is so real – the stealing of little girls to satisfy evil desires that are impossible to understand. And mother’s put in the unimaginable position of having to choose which children they will save, and which will be left behind. One of my little girls is turning 9 this summer, so this hit hard. I appreciate people like you and Ann reminding us that there are things we can do – especially pray. Turning a blind eye because it is too uncomfortable to think about is NOT an option.

    • dukeslee

      Ann’s post is the power of story. Our stories bring statistics to life. I’m so grateful for Ann’s telling of it. Praying and hoping and believing and moving in action with all of you sisters. xo

  10. Christine Duncan

    I try to stay on top of the heartbreak taking place… and petitioning God to extend His protective wings… but this is such a good reminder not to then place it all on the back shelf of our hearts and forget.
    The perspective that should motivate us really is, “this could be us.”
    Miracles, Lord, if ever we needed miracles….
    Thanks for being that highlighter for their needs, Jennifer.
    Am sharing immediately.

    • dukeslee

      Praying for miracles with you, Christine.

  11. Cheryl Smith

    Those dear, precious girls! I cannot even imagine their anguish and torment. Only Jesus can heal this depth of pain or even comprehend it! Thank you so much for spreading their story and for providing ways we can help and contribute. It is true…we can feel so far removed from it and so helpless as to know what to do. My Mom always used to tell me that prayer is a long-range weapon, and it can reach as far as it needs to. So thankful that when we can do nothing else, we can always, always pray. That may just be the greatest proactive thing we could ever do. May God have mercy on this and all of the other horrific, violent situations that are happening right now. Surely Jesus is soon to return!

    • dukeslee

      Hi Cheryl, The prayers of the saints are powerful. xo

  12. Leah Adams

    It is sickening how depraved humanity can be….how sinful I can be. My heart aches for those girls, for their families, for our world. Thank you for reminding us that we can make a difference.

    • dukeslee

      with you, Leah. Together.

  13. Veronica

    Thank you for the call to action. We can make a difference for these women and girls. Standing together.

    • dukeslee

      Standing with you, Veronica. Arms linked.

  14. JViola79

    This has sickened me beyond what I could have ever imagined. I look at my 2 granddaughters & cannot even comprehend the atrocity of doing this to little girls. We all need such a wake up call. What is amazing to me is that we do not see any of this on the news. Breaking news last night? Thirty minutes of a sports scandal. Something is so wrong. Thank you to both you & Ann for reminding us of how we can make a difference – all of us together.

    • dukeslee

      Yes, Joanne. I’ve been doing the same with Lydia and Anna. Ann’s post woke something up in all of us. That’s the power of telling the story. It moves people.

  15. Kristi Woods

    Agreeing with you that we stand and do something. Read Ann’s post last night. Not.on.my.watch.

    • dukeslee

      Thank you for being here, Kristi. Linking arms with you.

  16. Katie Reid

    And this is why we write, isn’t it? Thank you Jennifer for helping get the word out further. Thanks for including Samaritan’s Purse. I was also thinking about Voice of the Martyr’s too.

  17. Betsy Cruz

    Jennifer, thank you so much for your post. Thank you for using your platform to do something for these girls. This hits close to home with me since it’s happening literally at my back door. My heart aches, but I keep my eyes focused on our Father. My family prayed for these girls today.

    • dukeslee

      It feels so small, but together, we can do our part. Thank you, Betsy.

  18. Tara Ulrich

    My heart breaks for those girls. Yes, we can indeed make a difference. I am reminded of the song “Make a Difference” by Rachel Kurtz and Agape. It was the theme for the 2012 ELCA National Youth Gathering. “I want my life to make a change. I want my life to make a difference.” YES!!

    • dukeslee

      Those are great words to live by, Tara.

  19. Lisa notes...

    Oh, this makes my heart ache. I don’t want it to be true. But I know it is. Thank you for sharing how we can make a difference, how God can make a difference through us. Let it be so, Lord!

    • dukeslee

      Heart aching with yours. Thanks, Lisa.

  20. Jennifer Camp

    I want to stand with you, among these amazing sisters. I read Ann’s post earlier, and then to see it lifted up, on behalf of these daughters, our sisters, is so beautiful and powerful. Thank you, Jennifer. I’ve jumped in at the cause at Preemptive Love Coalition.

    • dukeslee

      Did you see that IF is hosting a webcast tomorrow at noon with Ann and Jeremy from Preemptive Love? I hope to listen in.

  21. Mary Hill

    Thank you for sharing this incredible story and bringing this to the attention of the Christian community. I also appreciate the practical steps of how we can respond that you outline in this post. And thanks for the opportunity to linkup.

    • dukeslee

      You are so welcome, Mary. Thanks for being here.

  22. Jeremy Courtney

    Jennifer, so honored by your willingness to speak up and stand in solidarity with our friends here in Iraq. Excited to be on this peacemaking journey with you now!

    • dukeslee

      It is my pleasure, Jeremy. What a beautiful picture of the Body of Christ working together. I am eager to hear how God works through all of you, with these additional finances. I pray that the Lord guides you, and that He protects you and all whom you serve. I had the pleasure of hearing you speak at Allume last year, and I look forward to seeing how he continues to work in and through you in the years ahead.
      Thank you for stopping by.

  23. Karrilee Aggett

    So thankful that so many are waking up and joining in… so thankful that Jeremy and Preemptive Love and other organizations are there and are making a difference! With such a dark evil that feels too big, it’s so encouraging to see that, always, Light shines brighter! Love you… love that we are standing, and kneeling, together!

  24. Sharon

    Thank you for writing this. I had no idea, and am a bit chagrined at my ignorance. Oh, how the world suffers. And how the Lord’s heart must bleed over this. Thanks for alerting us to this problem, and for the very practical ways to help.

    We must become instruments for God in this desperate and fallen world.


  25. Dawn

    I saw Ann’s post. I saw the responses. I am sitting here reading yours. And my heart breaks for these precious girls whose lives are being miscounted by so many. I weep with you, Jennifer, as I look at my own children and breathe a selfish sigh of relief.
    Your ideas to help, to pray, to pursue protection and love for them…I love them. Thank you for sharing this. Thank you for the brave you wear.
    Much love,

  26. Constance Ann Morrison

    Jennifer, thanks for the challenge (clothed as a reminder) to do something. We are not powerless! I don’t want to be stuck in the feeling part of the response to Ann’s post, although that is an appropriate response to the horrors in Iraq. I want to be in the doing part. I appreciate the list of specific ways to help.



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