Map of Iraq by  Orthuberra on WikimediaDuring times of tragedy and strife, people might think that dental concerns take a back seat. This may be true up to a point, but when you have a serious toothache, it needs attention, and, without access to a

dentist, a dental infection can lead to serious illness and even death. That’s why local non-profit Rescue Task Force, based in San Bernardino, is working to bring a dentist to Kurdistan in northern Iraq to provide dental care for Christians displaced by the movement of ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, also called IS (Islamic State) or ISIL (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant)).

Christian Refugees

Rescue Task Force is bringing its aid to help Christians who have been displaced by the movement of ISIS troops into Mosul in northern Iraq, which is across the river from the ancient city of Nineveh. For many Christians, the exile from Nineveh carries special significance, since it is a city that ties together the legacy of Jonas and Jesus.This is part of the reason for the mission of the Rescue Task Force, which notes on its Facebook page that “or the first time, since the time of the Apostles 1,800 years ago, there are no church services in Mosul, the ancient city of Nineva [sic].” Tens of thousands–possibly hundreds of thousands–of refugees from the fighting in this region have found their way north.

Bringing a Dentist

Founder of the Rescue Task Force, Gary Becks, personally went on this typically lean mission bringing with him a dentist from El Salvador and a San Jacinto businessman and partner.

He explained the importance of the mission, “Imagine that you have lost members of your family to ISIS, have left everything behind and you are in an encampment with a bad toothache. It’s not going to go away.”

The plan is to head into the town of Erbil in northern Iraq to gather supplies such as anesthetic and antibiotics and hook up with local Christian groups that can direct them to where and how they can do the most good, then head further north.

Becks thinks this might be his most dangerous mission since the founding of his charity, which in 1988 brought doctors to Soviet-occupied Afghanistan.

We wish Becks luck, and take this as a reminder to be grateful of all the things we have access to here in Orange County, including regular access to the dentist.