Two Springfield men are home safe after a mission to Mosul... on the enemy frontlines in Iraq. They were helping refugees, and even Iraqi soldiers who have been living under ISIS control.
These are two local, ordinary men, who both felt an extraordinary call to help.
"I'm a believer and just felt God leading me to go and help against these... evil," explained Dr. Todd Pierson, an optometrist in Branson, Missouri. He teamed up with a group called FBR-- Free Burma Rangers. It's a Christian organization, started by a former Army Ranger. But this non-profit works differently than most-- because it almost always involves grave danger.
Their work passing out bags of flour and rice-- can turn into a deadly riot... with hundreds of people in need, flocking to their vehicle.
Dr. Pierson left the comfort of his eye clinic in Branson-- for enemy territory.
"Some of them just needed reading glasses to read their maps, and things like that," Pierson said.
He's helping Iraqi soldiers better see their target... ISIS.
"We were on the western side of the Tigris, which is where ISIS is at," Pierson said of his location.
"There are 50 or 60 guys now that can read their GPS coordinates, they can read their maps better."
Todd's friend, Tim Hayes, is a Springfield attorney. He, too, felt the call.
"... and yes you can get hurt, but you pray about it, you plan and then you put it in God's hands," Hayes said.
He got his medic training from Battlefield Fire Department. But more importantly, he says, he used his voice to support Iraqi soldiers-- with his gift of encouragement.
"Now they're standing up and pushing back and winning against ISIS," Hayes said. "If you have someone telling you when you do a good job that you're doing a good job... and we appreciate your bravery and your sacrifice-- that makes you want to do it more."
Hayes says his call is not to comfort.
"It's just nice to have done something... you're correct. I'm not going to change the outcome of the war in Iraq, but one drop of help at a time... if enough people do it, we'll create an ocean. All you're trying to do is give a few drops of assistance and hope that more people will follow and it'll amount to something that impacts the area."
Hayes says there is always a need for more people to help with the refugee crisis-- even in enemy territory. There is especially a need for dentists and doctors of all kinds.
If you are interested, you can call Hayes at his law office-- Bishop and Hayes in Springfield, at 417-885-3964.
The organization Free Burma Rangers is always in need of donations. They can be reached online here: www.freeburmarangers.org.