Fr. Dale Johnson, the Syriac Orthodox Priest who preached and shared his ministry with Messiah in May, has assembled an emergency assessment team to help evaluate post-earthquake conditions in Iraq. A 7.3 magnitude quake struck the border between Iraq and Iran on Sunday, November 12, killing more than 500 and injuring nearly 8,000 at last report. It is the deadliest earthquake of 2017.
Fr. Dale sees a need and acts.
Although currently in the Dominican Republic (because his Turkish visa expired), Fr. Dale immediately began plans to respond. He assembled an assessment team in a matter of days: Farsi and Arabic interpreters, medical specialists, the kind of people needed in this situation. He arranged lodging at the American University in Sulaymaniyah, near the epicenter.
He didn't ask permission.
He didn't spend months planning.
He sent a few emails and Facebook messages. Then he trusted that what God provided could make a difference.
Right after Thanksgiving his team will gather in northern Iraq to begin their work, going where the government of Iraq and the UN need them. That's all they know right now. Considering its Fr. Dale, after a couple weeks of assessment he'll recognize a need that's falling between the cracks of the government and aid organizations, and he'll try to fill it. Perhaps we at Messiah will have an opportunity to help with that.
Here's what I think is the key to Fr. Dale's ministry: he's not afraid to fail. The outcome may or may not look like he expects, but the only failure is a failure to act. God can work with everything else.