Mission trip to Iraq makes lasting impact on nursing alumna

February 21, 2018

When Emily Barker (’16) saw her husband, David (’14), thrive at Liberty University School of Law, she decided it was time to go back and earn her BSN through the university’s online RN to BSN program after being a nurse for 17 years.

She completed her BSN in 2016 and had been praying for the opportunity to go on a mission trip. In early 2017, God used a Samaritan’s Purse Facebook advertisement.

“I didn’t really know anything about Samaritan’s Purse,” she said. “Then this call for nurses and physicians to go to Iraq popped in my newsfeed. Instantly, I knew I wanted to go.”

Iraq already had a special place in Barker’s heart. Her husband had served there with U.S. Army Special Operations and had been injured in combat. Naturally, he was hesitant for Emily to go on the monthlong trip, but she said she knew God wanted her there, so she submitted her application the next morning.

A few weeks later (in February 2017), she arrived in Mosul to serve with the Samaritan’s Purse Medical Disaster Assistance Response Team.

“It was 100 percent heartbreaking,” Barker said of the conditions there. “We could hear explosions 24/7 and mostly treated women and children. Children would arrive with arms and legs blown off (or) gunshot wounds to the head. It was a lot.”

Despite the tragedy and overwhelming need, Barker said the team saw God’s hand at work as the staff provided high-quality medical care while showing the love of Christ to victims of war.

“One physician brought a surgical tool that he bought for a couple of dollars on eBay thinking that he wouldn’t need it, but he ended up saving someone’s life with it,” she said. “We had a burn-care nurse about to end her deployment. Before she left, she taught a class on how to take care of extensive burns. Within one or two hours of that class, we received two significant burn victims.”

But the most meaningful miracle came when Barker returned to the states and to her 8-year-old son, Noah.

“It was heartbreaking to leave him, and I was terrified it would destroy his already hesitant faith in God if something happened to me,” Barker said.

“But God worked through all of it, and since then, my son has given his life to the Lord. He is now this super strong, courageous kid. I thought I was traumatizing him and doing this terrible thing, yet it turned out to be exactly what God wanted for my son.”

After her experience in Iraq, Barker hopes to continue to assist victims of wars and disasters, as well as combat veterans like her husband.

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