preemptive love

Preemptive Love

It was about a year ago at a dinner party when I met Jeremy Courtney. He was visiting to speak at our church, and we were invited to our friends’ 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.

Jeremy Courtney

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.

Preemptive Love

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

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.

Preemptive Love

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.

Preemptive Love

Preemptive Love

Preemptive Love

Preemptive Love

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.


Preemptive LoveJeremy is giving ten Art of Simple readers a free copy of his book Preemptive Love! To enter, simply leave any comment on this post (though I’d love to hear why you’d like to read it).

If you’re reading this via email or RSS reader, please click on the post to leave a comment directly on the blog.

This giveaway will end tomorrow, January 24, and we’ll announce the winners soon after. I hope you win!

Tsh Oxenreider

Tsh is the founder of this blog and just finished traveling around the world with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.

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  1. Incredible. I am a physical therapist who works with children, so this is dear to my heart. Would love to read this book.

  2. Wow, what a life mission!

  3. My oldest daughter had open heart surgery when she was 4. We were so grateful for the excellent care she received. She is 8 now and visits her cardiologist twice a year still and short of a miracle she will need another surgery. This is a topic near and dear to our hearts. I would love to read this book.

  4. What a wonderful family. So inspiring. I would love to read this book and share this cause!

  5. I love encouraging reads like this. I read a lot of nonfiction, and it can get depressing at times…so many negative statistics and cultural trends. Although this topic is also a sad one, this book seems to carry hope inside it, too. We need to hear stories like this. I’d like to a hear a story like this.
    Sarah M

  6. I would love to win this book. He is doing such wonderful work. God bless his team.

  7. I love reading the life stories of people who live “it” out — what an amazing thought: a love that strikes first.

  8. I would love to read this book because I would love to learn more about this remarkable cause.

  9. I would love to read this – I have a genetic heart condition myself (not that serious- thank God), so the subject is near and dear to my heart as well.

  10. Thanks for introducing us to the Courtney family and their ministry! I’d love to read their story. It’s encouraging and inspiring to read real stories of people giving of themselves for others, especially in hard places.

  11. Katie di Filippo says:

    This is so inspiring. This family seems to be living out the ideal that I try to live by, through love and not hate or fear. Love it! I would love to read more

  12. Oh my gosh, this book sounds amazing! I totally need to find this book even if I don’t win!

  13. Nicole Latulippe says:

    So inspiring! I can’t shake a nagging feeling that our family may end up in mission work some day. With no medical training, I’m not sure how wet would relate but I’d love to read this book!

  14. Sara Mohan says:

    Incredibly powerful! I will add this to my reading list!

  15. Wow, that sounds so inspiring. Would love to read this!

  16. What an inspiring ministry. I would love to read this book, and learn more about what this family is doing.

  17. I live in Turkey so Iraq is my neighbor, so I’d love to read this fascinating story!

  18. This is so inspiring! I would love to get my hands on a copy of this book. Hope I find my life’s mission like them.

  19. What a fascinating book and an important cause!

  20. Library Momma says:

    I would love to hear Jeremy’s story, plus I work with students fromIraq and this might offer an amazing understanding of some of their struggles.

  21. I’ve added this to my list of books to read!

  22. So inspiring! I would love to read this.

  23. Great story! I would love to read this book to read about another positive change that is happening in Iraq.

  24. This book looks amazing. Through my church, I’ve had the opportunity to work with Iraqi refugee families living in our area. Because of them, that part of the world has become more than a headline or a news story. I’d love to read more about the important work the Courtneys are doing there.

  25. Jennifer Ott says:

    Wow; I would love to read this! Thank you for highlighting things like this that sometimes escape our attention in this busy world.

  26. I would love to read this! I’d also love to add it to our shelves, which we want to fill with valuable reading material for our kids as they grow.

  27. Wow. This sounds like an inspiring read and I would love to add it to the stack on my nightstand!

  28. How amazing! Of course I would like to read this. Talk about important work… Thank you for sharing!

  29. I’m always fascinated with this area of the world. I’d love to know even more.

  30. Would love to read this. . . sounds inspiring on so many levels!

  31. Wow.

  32. I would love to read this simply because it sounds like a powerful, inspiring story.

  33. Thanks so much for sharing about this!

  34. Thank you for this opportunity. I’m trying to develop a method to my family’s charity living…and I’m looking for causes that speak to us all. I’d be very interested in reading about this venture.

  35. I am a librarian, so I’d like to read this book in order to consider it for our collection. If I add it, many others will read it, too.

  36. As a fellow expat and a nurse as well, I’d love to be inspired by this family’s story!

  37. Why wouldn’t I want to read this? It sounds amazingly nspiring and important. I’m quite excited to read it…

  38. This is actually on my “to read” list already – I would love to read it because my son had open heart surgery in china when he was 5 months old – so it is a topic very close to my heart. Also it is so inspiring seeing a family like this make such a positive impact!

  39. I’d love to read this book. I just finished “Half the Sky” and am in awe of what good can be done by regular people pursuing something all the way to the finish line.

  40. Thanks for the giveaway! Would love to win!

  41. I work in a heart transplant clinic and am excited to read this book and more about the organization.

  42. Christina says:

    Wow! What an amazing family! I’d love to read the book. Thanks for the opportunity!

  43. This book sounds awesome! What an inspiring story!

  44. Inspiring and important. Would love to experience this book and share it with my daughter who plans to study the modern Middle East in college. Thanks!

  45. Crazy inspiring story. Love ordinary people who are doing extraordinary stuff that really any of us could do.
    We would love to live overseas one day and learn and love the cultures but in the meantime we’re here loving this culture and trying to make God’s difference in lives.

  46. My son died within a day of being born due to medical issues, and my heart is just so soft for anything related to children’s health. This family is such an inspiration and I would love to learn more about their work.

  47. I’d love to learn more about this organization and read the book. Thanks for the giveaway!

  48. What a fascinating ministry! The book sounds great. It is always motivating to see how other people are following what God has called them to do.

  49. Wow , love wins! This sounds like such a beautiful read!

  50. Sounds so inspiring and humbling. Who couldn’t use a dose of both? 🙂

  51. I could use a good read about good people right now. This book sounds fantastic. Thanks for the giveaway.

  52. Fascinating. It’s so interesting to hear what things people are doing in places that seem so difficult. My own son was born with a heart defect requiring multiple surgeries. He had his first at 7 weeks old, but didn’t survive. So as a parent who knows how to long for the medical help their child needs, I would love to read this book.

  53. I heard of this book last year and have been waiting to read it. What an inspiring family for taking steps of faith to love. That’s something we all could be encouraged to do more of. I would love to read it soon!

  54. Great story, so inspiring! I’d love to read it.

  55. It sounds like such a tangible and practical way to care!

  56. Wow! What a beautiful story. Would love to read it.

  57. As both a Christian and a medical professional (and a mother of three), I would love to hear more about this organization. Thanks for getting the word out.

  58. What a beautiful story! I’d love to read it!

  59. I’d love to read this book! I find I’m struggling to find space in my life for ongoing education about global issues and what my lasting contribution to this world will be. I’d love to both learn about the circumstances in Irag and how Jeremy’s family to working to make this world a better place.

  60. This sounds like a powerful and eye-opening story. I would love to read it!

  61. I lived in Iraq (Baghdad) for just over a year in 2003 and 2004. It is a land that continues to hold a large part of my heart. I am so glad to know that there are people who are still at work there. Organizations who are not afraid to be where the help is most needed. And people who will support the church by loving people into it! Saddam was the embodiment of evil and Iraq will suffer the effects of that for generations to come. Praise the Lord for redemption and healing!

  62. I try to read as many social justice books as I can–for my benefit and to pass along to my daughters–and this issue/organization is a new one to learn about.

  63. I love real life inspirational books of people living courageously. I would love to read this and learn more.

  64. I would love to read this book, and have my family read it as well. I am always so glad to find inspiring stories about people to spur myself and my children to find ways to get involved in helping others!

  65. Sounds like a beautifully powerful book. I can’t wait to read it. I hope I win!

  66. I’m waiting for just the right book to come into my life, to inspire and uplift. This just might be the one.

  67. What an inspiring family! My oldest son had open heart surgery at the age of 3 almost a year ago. We were blessed with an outstanding medical team and I cannot imagine knowing that your child needs heart surgery and not being able to receive the care necessary. Kudos to the Coutney family for ensuring the health of others! I would love to read the book and find out more about their journey.

  68. How inspiring! I have a dream to someday take my family and do something bigger than us. Would love to read his family’s journey.

  69. I will read either way, but am thankful for a chance to win one, thank you for bringing this into my world.

  70. Wow, I can’t wait to read this book to our children! We are very involved in orphan care and know that there are so many children around this world who need life-saving and life-sustaining surgery. Praying this book reaches millions to make a huge difference for so many children and families.

  71. Amazing. I would love to read this book just for the understanding of others that go through struggles completely different than anything I have dealt with and by the grace of God wont have to.

  72. This is beautiful. Having lived in Saudi Arabia as a girl, I have a special love for the Middle East. Thank you, Jeremy, for the work you’re doing there.

  73. This book sounds amazing! I’m putting it on my must read list for this year!

  74. Thanks for the opportunity to win what sounds like a great book. I tend to get so focused on things going wrong in my life, this book is a great reminder of how lucky I really am.

  75. Wow, that is SO inspiring! I need a little inspiration in my life and would love to read the book!

  76. Sounds like a fantastic read. My family befriended a 3 generation Iraqi refugee family here in the area so I’m regularly looking for ways to understand their culture more.

  77. Wow I had no idea about these issues. Thanks for sharing. I am definitely putting it on my reading list!

  78. I’ve worked in the medical field for a number of years and would love to learn more about this.

  79. What a wonderful ministry!

  80. This family is truly a gift on this earth! I have had open heart surgery 4 times – twice as a child and twice as an adult. Without the advancements in technology and the dedication of everyone in the medical field, I may not be here today. Thank you to the Courtney family for their selfless love and dedication. They are changing the lives of so many people. I will read this book whether I win it or not!

  81. I love to read about how people are making a difference around the world. I would love to read this book!

  82. What an inspirational story. I have two internationally adopted children and feel called by the children of the world. One of my greatest wishes is to participate in some way to this kind of cause later in my life. I would love to read this book.

  83. What a cool story! Would love to read this!

  84. I would love to read this book! Our Wednesday night Ladies Class at my church is doing a study on love, and I want to read others stories about how they love, and what their love produces.

  85. Bridget Stevens says:

    I really enjoy reading stories like these!

  86. Wow! What an inspiring family. I have seen this book pop up on IG, FB and now your blog…I think I need to add this to my must read list!

  87. I’d love to read this book. I love reading about how God works through people to do big things!

  88. Sherrilynn Bair says:

    Such inspiration for all of us. Reading this book will inspire others to follow their dreams as well. Thanks for sharing such valuable information.

  89. This is so inspirational… putting this on my list to read!

  90. Amy Richards says:

    Sounds amazing. I really need some inspiration right now and would love to win the book!

  91. wow, i hadn’t realized there was such a medical crisis in iraq. i am interested to hear & learn more. blessings to jeremy and his family

  92. The book sounds so interesting. First of all, I had no idea that so many children in Iraq suffered from heart problems. I wonder if it’s because of the stress in their area of the world! Second, to think that Jeremy and his family are willing to live in such a volatile place to be able to take care of the littlest citizens shows both compassion and bravery. I’m sure we could all learn a lot from them! Even if I don’t win, I plan to read the book. Thanks for sharing!

  93. I’d love to read this book! It sounds like an amazing and inspiring story and I’d really love to know more!

  94. Lee Wilkins says:

    I used to volunteer for Love Without Boundaries, a non-profit dedicated to providing medical care, foster care, nutrition and education to orphaned or impoverished children in China. I would love to read about this man’s passion for healing the hearts of Iraqi children.

  95. Pretty sure I’ll cry reading this…but it’s this kind of thing that makes me still have hope for this world. Praise God for these people who are working for Him even in tough circumstances!

  96. I’d enjoy reading this book because I love to witness the creativity of God. He uses such cool ways to allow us to share His love.

  97. What a fascinating family! Would love to read more about what it takes to do what they do!

  98. Thanks for the giveaway, and I pray that God may bless them, in this amazing redemptive love that they are pouring out.

  99. my first time hearing about this ministry; it is only God’s grace my son was born in US so that he could have life-saving heart surgery.

  100. Stephanie A says:

    This sounds like an incredible testimony and one I’d love to read and share with my children.