The Men Who Show Impossible Mercy

“You killed my friends and relatives, but I forgive you…”

Sadiq held the bottle to the ISIS leader’s parched lips.

“You’re thirsty, so here’s water.”

It’s almost impossible to imagine this kind of love, but these are the Iraqis we get to work with. These are the faces I think of when I hear the term Muslim or Arab.

I mean seriously, how many people would care for the man who beheaded their friend on camera and then posted it online?

Sadiq (left) and Uday (right) on a children’s wheelchair distribution in Mosul this month. Photo by Matt Willingham / Preemptive Love Coalition

Last Friday was Eid, the celebration at the end of Ramadan. For Muslims around the world, a central theme of this day is mercy. I am in awe of the people we work with here in Iraq and the extraordinary mercy they show…

 Men like Sadiq and Uday, who show mercy by loading trucks of food to serve starving communities during their Ramadan fast.

Who show mercy by forgiving murderers…

Who show mercy by comforting disabled children…

Who show mercy by eating last and laughing loudest and barely seeming to notice the endless power outages or missed meals…

It’s a shame more people don’t know these men. If I could make everyone on earth think of their faces and stories every time they hear the words Middle East or Muslims or Arabs, I’d do it in a heartbeat.

Though they don’t seem to care one bit about praise or credit, they surely deserve it.

So to all of you who’ve supported our work helping people start jobs or survive on the frontlines of war—these are the men you’re supporting.

These are the people who make the magic happen. Our stories are intertwined into something truly beautiful, and we’re humbled indeed just to be associated with them.