Christians Who Welcomed Neighbors Fleeing ISIS Receive Unexpected Gift From Glenn's Audience

Mar Elias stands for Saint Elijah, an Old Testament prophet. There is a shrine to Saint Elijah in Erbil, Iraq where Mar Elias church is. Mercury One and Glenn Beck visited this church and surrounding courtyard in December 2015. At the time it was being used as a refugee camp and occupied by over 1,000 Assyrian Christians.

How did the neighborhood of Ankawa in Erbil, Iraq grow from a population of 30,000 in 2011 to 100,000 in 2015?

In 2014, ISIS overtook the Nineveh province, a large area covering most of the northwestern part of Iraq that includes historic cities including Qaraqosh, Mosul, Batnay, Karemles, and other predominantly Christian towns. After ISIS took over their homes, citizens fled in droves to Erbil, a city to the east of the Nineveh province. Many of these refugees were Assyrian and Chaldean Christians, Yazidis and Muslims, who all ended up in various neighborhoods in and around Erbil.

RELATED: Nazarene Fund Donations Have Saved Almost 2,400 Christians in Iraq

One of these neighborhoods was Ankawa, a bustling area which had several Christian churches, active open markets, crosses everywhere and a statue of the Virgin Mary at the entry point to the neighborhood welcoming anyone who came to the area. Generally speaking, it’s a very urban and western feeling area. There is an air of commerce, bumper to bumper traffic, a nightlife, and an engaged community. Ankawa is an anchor point for the Chaldean Catholic community in Iraq.

The neighborhood of Ankawa swelled to 100,000… that is more than triple the people living in the community. Tens of thousands of people arrived to the capital city of Erbil. The government was already financially burdened with the war and they could not provide enough resources to care for these displaced people. Many who journeyed into Erbil were Assyrian Catholics and they made their way to the churches in Ankawa and other neighboring areas seeking aid.

We talk a lot about what it means to be Christian and to live a Christian life. We could all take some cues from the residents and the Chaldean Catholic Church of Erbil and Ankawa. Instead of placing restrictions on aid or turning these people away, they opened their hearts and the neighborhood to them. The churches responded by turning their properties into refugee camps. The residents responded by welcoming and providing assistance as they could.

The refugee camps were throughout Erbil. Mar Elias is just one such camp and it is the first place that Mercury One went to assist. In December 2015, Mercury One arrived in Mar Elias (in Ankawa), where the refugees had been granted temporary permission to occupy the holy shrine and had made the square and the church a permanent home. Over 1,000 people lived in this area which is the size of a typical strip mall/retail center in the U.S. This courtyard and accompanying building had become a semi-permanent home. There was running water and a sewage system developed. A primary and a secondary school was created and the community committed to educating the children who lived here. There was a daycare. If possible (which you can imagine was extremely difficult), families were finding ways to make money. An open-air market had been organized and opened just outside of the courtyard’s gates… so a place for commerce was established.

Mar Elias had become the center of the Christian refugees in Ankawa. People from other camps would come to Mar Elias to socialize and share news. There was a volleyball court set-up that was incredibly popular, probably because it was just something so simple and normal and fun, an escape from the trauma these refugees had suffered and continued to endure. Some of the refugees were artisans and created a beautiful public art piece that serves as a war memorial for those that have been lost in this violent, bloody time.

In December Mercury One moved from Mar Elias 149 people – 62 children, 25 families – to Slovakia. This was the beginning of our ability to impact the lives of these people. But, it didn’t take long for Mercury One to understand that the best solution, and the solution desired by those who were impacted the most, the Christian and Yazidi population in the region was to find a way to stay in their homeland. We just knew that the life they were building in the Mar Elias’s courtyard and buildings was not a permanent solution. Though, the community had organized and it didn’t seem like there was a place to go.

It took almost 10 months, but by October 2016, the last refugees were cleared out and the grounds were abated, rebuilding and restoration process had begun. The refugees were resettled to private homes and apartments in and around Erbil which were funded by Mercury One.

Nearly 6 months later, Mercury One is proud, for the people of the Ankawa community, that Mar Elias has been restored. The Church is once again a place for quiet contemplation and worship. It was beautifully restored in time to host special services over Easter weekend.

On Palm Sunday, Mar Elias was packed with locals and refugees to mark the beginning of Holy Week.

Republished with permission from MercuryOne.org.

Would Glenn make a better bounty hunter or a Jedi? You'll have to find out in a new episode of the Beltway Banthas Podcast, where Glenn goes deep on Star Wars with host Stephen Kent. In this 45 minute discussion, Stephen and Glenn explore the political themes of the Star Wars franchise, Darth Vader's redemption from Return of the Jedi, Glenn's earliest memories of seeing the films and even debate elements of the latest Star Wars films.

If you enjoy the pop culture and nerdy discussions that Glenn, Pat and Stu get into on the radio show, you'll love this! After you're through, you can also check out Stu Burguiere's appearance on Beltway Banthas to talk Star Wars. You can find that here.


It's never too early to start your Christmas, Hanukah, or Kwanzaa shopping. Or even birthday gift shopping. Especially if that special someone in your life is a Democrat. Because at last count, pretty much all the Democrats are now running for president. And that means there has never been a wider selection of official candidate merchandise to choose from. Whether you're into environmentalism, feminism, classism, socialism, or just plain love, there is a smorgasbord of classy items that you and yours will treasure forever... or at least until the next presidential election.

We have browsed each of the candidates' online stores, so you don't have to (it only took us three months). We have curated only the finest items from each of the Democrats running for president of the United States of America. Without further ado, here is your handy progressive gift guide – or maybe your what-not-to-gift guide.

First, the bargain basement options. Hurry! Time is running out to grab your Beto bandana, or your Delaney pack of golf balls, because at this point Stu has as much of a chance as these guys of getting the nomination.

Tom Steyer, for example – is he still in the race?


https://shop.tomsteyer.com/collections/frontpage/products/tom-2020-pattern-tee


There's way too much Tom here. That shirt's got more Toms than a Caucasian dentists' convention.

For the slightly more moderate Democrat in your life, perhaps they'd like to join the "Yang Gang"…

https://shop.yang2020.com/collections/bumper-stickers/products/yanggang-decal


Andrew Yang is a lock for Math Club president…


https://shop.yang2020.com/collections/apparel/products/math-hat


But for actual president? Well, I wouldn't make plans for how you're going to spend your $1,000-per-month Yang allowance just yet.

If you happen to be shopping for your dog, may I suggest this lovely "Dogs for Delaney" dog collar…


https://store.johndelaney.com/products/dogs-for-delaney-collar


John Delaney's definitely going to secure the canine vote with this kind of outreach. As for any human votes, that's another question entirely.

How 'bout this tastefully understated "Natural Canvas" Michael Bennet tote to remind you he's also still here?...


https://store.michaelbennet.com/michael-bennet-for-america-natural-canvas-tote/


Then again, it's a tote. So, it'll end up on the floor of your closet and you won't have it with you until that one random moment when you're out somewhere and you really need a tote bag. Just like Democrats will really wish they had a moderate when we're in the middle of the socialist nightmare of their creation.

Captain Planet himself, Jay Inslee recently dropped out of the race, but don't let that stop you from picking up what may be the greatest single item sold by anyone in this race…


https://store.jayinslee.com/elvis-the-elves-the-mystery-of-the-melting-snow-by-jay-inslee/


A children's book called Elvis & the Elves: the Mystery of the Melting Snow. Written and illustrated by Governor Jay Inslee. Talk about a whodunnit – how could that snow possibly be melting? Spoiler alert: it's because of evil, white, patriarchal capitalism. And Donald Trump.

Then there's the candidate who thinks you're a moron that can't pronounce his last name: Steve Bullock...


https://shop.stevebullock.com/collections/apparel/products/emoji-t-shirt


Get it? Bull. Lock. Oh, so that's how you say the name that sounds exactly how it's spelled.

There's another candidate who also thinks you need help pronouncing his last name…


https://store.peteforamerica.com/collections/apparel/products/boot-edge-edge-t-shirt


And he is definitely right about that. So, thank you, Pete "Boot Edge Edge." That helps.

Just outside the bargain bin section, but just barely, are candidates like Julian Castro and his "El Presidente" t-shirt…


https://store.julianforthefuture.com/julian-castro-loteria-card-white-tee/


When your last name's Castro, do you really want to go with a weird drawing of yourself as if you're a classic Latin American dictator on a postage stamp?

If you prefer a little "dark psychic forces" battling in your candidates, you'll love Marianne Williamson's "Turn Love Into a Political Force" rally sign…


https://store.marianne2020.com/collections/signs/products/love-rally-sign


"Turn Love Into a Political Force" would be an even better title for a Marianne Williamson album of 80s cover songs. And if you think I'm joking, then you haven't heard Bernie Sanders' classic 1987 folk album, We Shall Overcome. That's not a joke. Well, it is a joke, but it's also a very real thing.

Now, just a quick pause to consider the peculiar baby-wear that way too many candidates are selling…

…including Elizabeth Warren's trans-pride flag onesie. Let me get this straight – we can't force any gender on a child, because that's just cruel. But we can force a political advertisement on a baby? How do we know that baby is actually a Biden or Warren fan? The child may not even be a Democrat or a Socialist at all. That baby might self-identify as a Libertarian, or Republican, or even worse – a moderate Democrat.

Now to the premium items from the premium candidates. Elizabeth Warren – the candidate with the most honesty in her advertising…


https://shop.elizabethwarren.com/collections/apparel/products/impolite-arrogant-women-make-history-unisex-t-shirt

-AND-

https://shop.elizabethwarren.com/collections/drinkware/products/strong-american-unions-mug


Warren's merchandise reflects the woman herself – cold and humorless (watch her "This isn't funny" clip from the last debate here at the 4:27 mark). I'm sure she's really fun once you get to know her. Then again, maybe not.

Speaking of serious women, Kamala Harris wants to be president very badly for you, the people, as you can tell from her "For the People" poster…


https://store.kamalaharris.org/poster-for-the-people/


At $29.99 though, she's sure not charging "people's" prices. Of course, she might be having to pay royalties to a certain someone for riffing on their poster. Just saying.

For the race's number one socialist, there's a whole lot of capitalism going on in Bernie Sanders' campaign. He sells so many delightful items that it's hard to choose. But we did anyway. The most random item is this hundred-dollar, black, "Art of a Political Revolution – Artists for Bernie Sanders Coaches Jacket"…


https://store.berniesanders.com/collections/apparel/products/artists-for-bernie-coaches-jacket


Coaches across the land will be clamoring for this one. You know, since coaches are such a strong Bernie-socialist demographic.

If that's a little over your budget you might consider a "Feel the Bern" fanny pack, to help store all those government freebies you'll get from Bernie…


https://store.berniesanders.com/collections/apparel/products/feel-the-bern-fanny-pack


This is the only context in which you'll ever want to hear "feel the burn" and "fanny" in the same sentence.

And finally, from front-runner Joe Biden, we have this fine "Women's Fitted Biden Polo." Which is just about the best polo description ever…


https://store.joebiden.com/collections/apparel/products/biden-polo-womens-fit


It promises the kind of snug approach that Biden loves to provide women. Even when they don't ask.

This was one of the first homesteads in the area in the 1880's and was just begging to be brought back to its original glory — with a touch of modern. When we first purchased the property, it was full of old stuff without any running water, central heat or AC, so needless to say, we had a huge project ahead of us. It took some vision and a whole lot of trust, but the mess we started with seven years ago is now a place we hope the original owners would be proud of.

To restore something like this is really does take a village. It doesn't take much money to make it cozy inside, if like me you are willing to take time and gather things here and there from thrift shops and little antique shops in the middle of nowhere.

But finding the right craftsman is a different story.

Matt Jensen and his assistant Rob did this entire job from sketches I made. Because he built this in his off hours it took just over a year, but so worth the wait. It wasn't easy as it was 18"out of square. He had to build around that as the entire thing we felt would collapse. Matt just reinforced the structure and we love its imperfections.

Here are a few pictures of the process and the transformation from where we started to where we are now:

​How it was

It doesn't look like much yet, but just you wait and see!

By request a photo tour of the restored cabin. I start doing the interior design in earnest tomorrow after the show, but all of the construction guys are now done. So I mopped the floors, washed the sheets, some friends helped by washing the windows. And now the unofficial / official tour.

The Property

The views are absolutely stunning and completely peaceful.