Many Americans, including Christian leaders, were outspoken in their opposition to President Bush’s recent plans to send more troops to Iraq. However, a mission group reports that many Iraqi and Middle Eastern Christians support the war and the greater number of American troops proposed to be sent to Iraq.
“If this had not happened, the war, they would not have 35 new churches in Baghdad that they know of,” said Tom Doyle of E3 Partners, according to Mission Network News on Monday.
E3 Partners, which met with Middle Eastern Christians recently, is a ministry that seeks to equip church leaders around the world on how to evangelize, develop leaders and plant churches.
Doyle said that there are “tremendous” things happening in the Kurdish area which some are calling a revival.
Yet in America, some Christian leaders were among the strong opponents of sending more troops to Iraq when Bush unveiled his new Iraq plans earlier this month.
“It is time, not to send more troops, but to start bringing our troops home,” said the National Council of Churches of Christ USA in a statement on Jan. 17.
Prominent Christian leaders from NCC member churches also voiced their opposition to sending more troops.
The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop and primate of the Episcopal Church, called for more diplomacy with not only the United Nations, European Union and Russia, but also the Middle East including Iran and Syria.
“Diplomacy, built on a foundation of mutual respect and interest among people of good will, not more troops, can bring an end to this tragic conflict,” said Schori.
A number of evangelicals, however, have voiced their opposition to a U.S. pull-out. In a commentary earlier this month, Prison Fellowship founder Chuck Colson said “to pick up and leave would break the promises we have made to the Iraqi people, would leave hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians defenseless, would lead to massive chaos and bloodshed, and would be an act of moral dishonor.”
“It would be akin to what the Allies did after World War II,” he added, “when they abandoned Eastern Europe to the Soviets and returned millions of Russian refugees and POWs to lands occupied by the Red Army—even though the Allies knew that, for many, it meant death and, for the rest, tyranny.
“That was one of the most shameful chapters in the history of the West—an abandonment of our most fundamental moral principles,” Colson stated.
E3 Partners’ Doyle reported that the mission leaders in the Middle East were “shocked” when they saw how Iraq was portrayed in the media.
“These guys (mission leaders) are on the ground floor seeing what’s going on – new schools, new hospitals,” said Doyle, according to MNN. “They say ‘it looks like the media is trying to portray that you’re losing.’”
Doyle further reported that church leaders say many Iraqis view American soldiers as heroes.
“In most places the American soldiers are perceived as their only protection and they’re honored in many ways,” he reported.
Currently, there are about 130,000 American troops are in Iraq and a total of 3,075 U.S. military personnel have been killed in Iraq since 2003, according to icasualties.org.
Bush’s plan calls for sending up to 21,500 more American soldiers to Baghdad and surrounding areas. The Democratic-controlled Senate will consider a non-binding resolution declaring that Bush's proposal to send more troops to Baghdad and Anbar province is "not in the national interest."
Correspondent Eric Young in Washington contributed to this report.