Iraqi Christians and churches are seriously affected by the internal turmoil in Iraq, according to Open Doors with Brother Andrew, a worldwide ministry to the Persecuted Church. “Iraq remains a very dangerous place not only for American troops, but for our Iraqi Christian brothers and sisters,” says Open Doors USA President Dr. Carl Moeller.
With some of the fiercest fighting of conflict occurring last month, in several cities, including Baghdad, various churches have canceled meetings and both Christians and Muslims have been trying to stay home as much as possible to avoid the crossfire. Although the violence seems to be the strongest in the central regions of the country, it has also reached the north.
Open doors has limited travel by foreign staff members, based on advice of Iraqi Christian leaders. Meetings with Iraqi Christians continue in the region, but for the moment take place outside of Iraq. “Due to a big mine explosion on a US convoy, I missed the first plane when traveling to Jordon,” said one of Open Doors’ Iraqi co-workers. “Also on the highway from Fallujah to Baghdad, there were a lot of difficulties.” He was warmly welcomed in Amman to discuss the progress of Open Doors’ special support project for Iraq.
“We have to expect some hindrances because of this increase in violence,” said the co-worker. All Arab teachers invited for seminars in April, May, and September have asked to postpone their training projects due to the insecurity. “We have no qualified Arabic-speaking teachers ready to come anymore,” he said. On the other hand, so far the import and distribution of Christian literature has been continuing without major obstacles.
“Pray for security and for stability in Iraq. Pray that Christians there can worship in peace and in freedom. Pray that Open Doors’ project can continue,” said Moeller.
Christians are hoping and praying that by the fall of 2004 that new leadership may bring peace and stability. Stability and security are the two top prayer requests mentioned by Iraqi Christians, who number approximately 500,000.