E-Update · March 12, 2019
How do you know if you can truly love your enemies unless you put yourself in the position to face that choice?
Choices made from the place of comfort and fear will ultimately be fruitless and will rarely if ever lead us to answering the deeper questions of our faith… like, “Is God really good?”
Dave Eubank prays for suspected ISIS fighters
Bandaging up the remaining members left out of a family of 12 caught in an airstrike
On this last mission to Syria our team treated over 4,000 wounded and sick and provided food, water, blankets and gave shelter to over 20,000 fleeing the last stronghold of ISIS in Syria. Initially we encountered women, children, and men that had either slipped out in the night or paid smugglers up to $1,000 each to leave. Many of the injuries we saw were from ISIS shooting at them as they fled… vehicles and people full of holes.
Civilian’s truck riddled with bullet holes while fleeing from ISIS
Mountain of blankets
Thousands fleeing Baghouz
At one position the people had to walk several miles over open ground and climb a steep hill to get to us before receiving aid. Exhausted, malnourished, and wounded, some were not able to make the final climb so we made our way down to carry them and all their worldly possessions up the hill.
All of these people were sympathizers and or suspected ISIS fighters and their families.
“So how does it feel to be the baggage porters for ISIS?”
This was critical and yet understandable question asked of us by a US soldier who had heard about our aid to these people.
Dave Eubank and I carry a wheelchair-bound girl up the hill
Shielding a malnourished child from wind and rain
Feeding Yazidi boys rescued from ISIS
Later, another journalist asked me a similar question for a podcast that can be found here.
My answer was twofold.
First, there is Romans 5:10 which says “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His son, how much more, since we have been reconciled, will be saved by His life?” This passage is clear in saying that we (I) was an enemy to God and in that state He had such a deep love and grace for us (me) that He sent Jesus to die in my place. To redeem me. Jesus combats His enemies with love and grace. Love will always be more powerful than hate.
Second, when the journalist asked me that question I was just a few feet away from one of our teammates, Mahamed, who was helping give medical aid to ISIS families. Mahamed is a former Iraqi soldier and is now a vital part of our team. During the battle of Mosul last year, he was shot 6 times by ISIS during the rescue of a small girl and her father, and now here he was showing love and mercy to his enemy. Mahamed was living the Romans passage out right before my eyes and his actions were helping me keep my heart soft, humble, and thankful for God’s grace in my own life.
In the midst of all the hate we pray that the Love we shared with these families and fighters would open a crack in their darkened hearts to receive a new spirit.
Because there have been a few questions about our move to Idaho I wanted to also clarify a couple of things.
- I will continue in my current role as Division Director for the Foreign Armed Forces Division of Cadence International.
- I will still be traveling overseas to our ministry sites and also adding a recruiting travel to my schedule.
I want to thank you all for your diligent prayers and support of the Bradley family and the work of Cadence International.
Paul, for the Bradleys.
News links that mention our Free Burma Ranger team
E-Update · May 31, 2018
Dear Friends. Below is a photo essay of my latest trip with the Free Burma Rangers to Syria.
On this mission we visited Raqqa, Kobane, Tapqa, Tal Tamr, and Manbij.
We visited IDP camps, dedicated several playgrounds we arranged to have installed (donated by Reload Love), held Good Life Club kids programs, distributed food, and provided medical care for those in need.
We are looking forward to seeing many of you this summer.
Team photo on the Euphrates River
Praying with Raqqa City Council members
New playground city center Raqqa
Medical care Raqqa
Good Life Club Raqqa
Dinner with YPG
ISIS destroyed church Tal Tamr
ISIS destroyed church Tal Tamr
Medical care for IDPs in Tal Tamr
Sinjar Yazidi Commandos
Incoming sand storm
IDP Camp Manbij
On the Road
Good Life Club at IDP camp in Manbij
Good Life Club at frontline village
Good Life Club at frontline village
People living in blown up buildings, Tapqa
Joseph and I at the Euphrates
with YGP soldiers Tal Tamr
Kids of Kobane
YPG soldier greets a family member who made it across the front line to safety
Kobane Christian Church members
E-Update · March 10, 2018
Rubble: broken fragments (as of rock) resulting from the decay or destruction of a building. (Webster)
Raqqa, Syria. Nearly every street in the city looks this way.
It’s really difficult using words alone to accurately describe the destruction to property and lives in Raqqa. Even the photos that I will share here won’t do it justice.
As we drove through the city (in places cleared enough to pass) I kept thinking that it could not get any worse, but then we would round a corner and the visual scale of destruction would multiply.
In 2014 ISIS declared the city its de facto capitol and began destroying non-Sunni structures. They also instituted a harsh Sharia Law and used the city center for public punishment of those accused of breaking that law. These well-documented punishments included everything from lashings to crucifixions and beheadings.
They used the soccer stadium as a prison and place of torture and also sold Yazidi women and girls from a cage on the field.
Soccer Stadium Cage
If the city could speak…
On October 17th last year the city was finally declared liberated from ISIS after months of airstrikes from the Syrian government, Russia, the United States, and several other countries.
While many celebrated the victory of the defeat of ISIS and the terror they inflicted, the city and its people have been left shattered.
Even now, 5 months later, only a few are trickling back to see if there is anything left of their homes, businesses, and property. Many also are coming to look for loved ones, long lost.
Boy sells charcoal on the road
Boy in the city
A tailor salvages his precious patterns
The question everyone is asking is, “How does a city and its people come back from such devastation?”
I believe that for these families in Raqqa it is not only their city that lies in ruins but also their trust in religion and governments.
Over and over on our trip we offered prayers and love through medical care, food distribution, and children’s programs. Each time, these small acts of love were eagerly received, and we were rewarded with smiles from kids, hugs and kisses from adults desperate for something good. In the midst of a destroyed city and shattered lives loves brings hope.
Raqqa Kids Program
Handing Out Toys
Little girl wounded by a landmine explosion
Jesus said that it is the “wise man” who builds upon the “Rock,” which are His teachings of of the true gospel. Because the rains will come, floods will happen, and the winds will beat against all of our lives.
Jesus is the true Gospel. Relationship versus religion. Love versus law.
As it turns out, rubble makes a great foundation. Using rubble as a foundation is actually an ancient building technique and is still practiced in many parts of the world.
When structures (ideals, religions, philosophies) of man collapse it is an opportunity to begin again. To evaluate the foundation.
We continue to pray for these families that they will choose to rebuild with Love, turning to the Creator for hope and help.
Dave praying for educational leaders
It is our desire that our small acts of help, hope, and love will point to the True Foundation as we move among them in Jesus Name.
A special thanks to all of you who pray and give to make these missions possible.
Bonus Photo Section:
Syrian Christian Church in Kobane