It was about a year ago at a dinner party when I met Jeremy Courtney, the founder of Preeimptive Love. He was visiting to speak at our church, and we were invited to our friend's house to enjoy a community dinner and get to know this young guy who was in town from Iraq, of all places.
We sat by each other at the dinner table, so we got quite a bit of time to talk. Turns out we were both from the Austin area originally, and since we’re the same age, we had a pretty similar upbringing. We had each also recently lived in Turkey. In fact, our families were both slated to be in Austin about a month later, so we scheduled a playdate at a park. We’ve kept up ever since.
Jeremy, his wife, and his two young kids live in Iraq running their organization, Preemptive Love. Their mission is To eradicate the backlog of Iraqi children waiting in line for lifesaving heart surgery in pursuit of peace between communities at odds.
See, there’s a ridiculously long line of children waiting for heart surgery in Iraq. 13 years of sanctions by the United Nations impoverished the state of Iraq, leading to a complete collapse of its excellent but highly centralized medical system. Embargoes on medical supplies and equipment for rebuilding hospitals exacerbated the problem and prevented Iraqis from slowing the effects of sanctions and warfare.
So instead of 30 years of growth, the last three decades years of Iraqi medical care have been deterioration, destruction, and decay.
This inability to treat even the most normal case load of patients–combined with higher rates of birth defects in Iraq and the naturally long course of congenital heart disease–has led to a bottleneck of children who need lifesaving heart surgery.
Preemptive Love calls it The Backlog, and they live and work in Iraq equipping Iraqi heart surgery teams until they’re able to do it alone.
Jeremy’s book is called Preemptive Love: Pursuing Peace One Heart at a Time. It invites you to walk along the front lines of the struggle for peace with Jeremy in a firsthand account of his team’s quest to mend hearts and save lives in the world’s most notorious war-torn country.
In the heart of conflict, there is only one kind of love big enough to change a nation: a love that strikes first.
Seriously, you guys—this is an incredibly powerful read. Jeremy’s family continues to inspire me, partly because they’re so normal. They’re just an average family, living out their calling in war-torn Iraq. I love that that their lives truly reflect what they believe: to love first and ask questions later.