Date: July 24, 2013
There aren't many Iraqi churches still standing. Many believers are gone.
Iraq (MNN) ― While the United States spent over a decade in Iraq to prevent civil war, the country appears to be heading in that direction now that the troops are gone. Al-Qaeda has also been flexing its proverbial muscles, claiming responsibility for Abu Ghraib and Taji jailbreaks. According to reports, 500 prisoners--including top al-Qaeda leaders--escaped.
Those attacks are compounded by suicide bombings. The most recent violence was an attack on a Sunni Mosque which killed at least 20 people. Reports indicate Sunni-Shia unrest is escalating.
Paul Estabrooks, Middle East expert with Open Door, calls it a power struggle. "This power struggle is just continuing to elevate itself to the point where many had predicted there would be civil war in this country. And, this seems to be the case. The challenge then remains for our brothers and sisters, many of whom have left the country."
Iraq is #4 on the Open Doors World Watch List of countries that persecute Christians. That's up from #12 in 2011. Estabrooks says there is a small remnant that remains. "Our co-workers estimate there are probably still about 300,000 Christians throughout the country. Many of them have fled to the north. Kurdistan in the north of Iraq seems to be the most peaceful area."
Open Doors is still working in Iraq. "Their work, so far, has been primarily been in providing encouragement for believers and providing resources of even (ironically) training materials." Christians there need biblical and leadership training.
In the north, Christians are receiving practical training. "We have provided livelihood projects in the mountains of Kurdistan where Christians live, who have been driven from their homes in the southern part of Iraq."
While Iraq is almost half way around the world, you can make a difference. "Christians can be light and salt as Jesus directed us in some of the most difficult situations and circumstances--and Iraq is one of those."
Be praying for Christians in Iraq that "they will be able to wage peace in the middle of war. And, secondly, [pray] that they will understand what God wants them to do."
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