Southern Baptists Resume Missions in Iraq

( [email protected] ) Oct 09, 2003 09:15 AM EDT

Iraq – After five weeks of delay, the Southern Baptist ministry project in Iraq resumed, Oct. 7. The arrival of Southern Baptist volunteer teams were delayed after the August 19th truck bomb attack on United Nations offices in Baghdad, and the subsequent attacks that targeted humanitarian workers.

During the past month, however, the vast majority of attacks has occurred after dark and has been directed at military targets, a worker in Baghdad said. Ministry leaders believe risks can be minimized by exercising the right kind of precautions.

"We judge the situation to be sensitive, but we can continue to work," he said. "The threat level has decreased. We are hearing very positive things about foreigners from local people.

"We are resuming volunteer projects focused on the distribution of food boxes. Teams will be smaller, with fewer than 10 people."

The boxes of food packed by Southern Baptist churches in late spring began arriving in the country Aug. 21. Volunteers who had planned to begin distributing the 46,000 boxes in late August were rerouted to Jordan to deliver food and supplies to Iraqi and other refugees living there. Small teams of Southern Baptist workers and Arab Baptist partners have been distributing food in Iraq itself.

One worker reported that Iraqis who received the food boxes in two towns in central Iraq asked for New Testaments, which Arabs know as the "Injil." When the worker returned on subsequent days, people who were standing in line for food actually left the queue to get a New Testament.

Another worker reported that Shi'ite Muslim mosques in Baghdad held a special day of prayer for the love Southern Baptists in America showed by packing and sending the food boxes.

"We are grateful Southern Baptists were sensitive to God's leading in packing the food boxes," said one worker. "This tangible expression of God's love has broken through barriers of misunderstanding and created an opportunity for people to experience God's love and forgiveness for themselves.

"We're asking Christians everywhere to pray that God will reveal himself to Iraqis and help them see that Jesus is, as the Quran says, the long-promised Messiah."