Monday, July 3, 2017

iraq trip

erbil citadel - less than 50 mi from mosul
recently we were able to visit the country of iraq, where christianity is on the verge of extinction. 

iraq is a country of extreme persecution of christians, where proselytizing or leading a muslim away from islam can lead to the death penalty.  in addition, ISIS and other radical islamic terrorist groups have caused the few remaining iraqi christians to flee the country.  the country of iraq, one of the origins of the christian faith, is in desperate need of the gospel.

while we were in iraq, we were amazed by the work of the christian missionaries we met.  so inspired by their willingness to risk it all in such a hostile place, simply so that one more person may come to faith and freedom in Jesus!  we visited a local christian church, refugee camps full of both syrians and displaced iraqi's, local markets, and local soccer fields.  we're extremely grateful to our friends the lawrence's for hosting us and showing us around.  it was a life changing experience, and we are excited to help share about the hope of Jesus with the iraqi people in the future. 

local christian church in kurdistan
to read a little more about the current state of christianity in iraq, the following is an excerpt from a fox news interview with andrew white from may 2017.  he is the founder of the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation Middle East, and is also one of last christian leaders to have openly worked in baghdad.

He is one of the world’s most prominent priests, but Canon Andrew White – known as the “Vicar of Baghdad” – has reached a painstaking conclusion: Christianity is all but over in the land where it all began.
“The time has come where it is over, no Christians will be left. Some stay Christians should stay to maintain the historical presence, but it has become very difficult. The future for the community is very limited,” White told Fox News this week. “The Christians coming out of Iraq and ISIS areas in the Middle East all say the same thing, there is no way they are ever going back. They have had enough.”
Thirty years ago, there were approximately 1.4 million Christians in Iraq. The number dwindled to around 1 million after the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, and a year ago it was estimated that there were less than 250,000 left. Numbers have continued to decline as families flee, and today even approximate figures are difficult to obtain.
“If there is anything I can tell Americans it is that your fellow brothers and sisters are suffering, they are desperate for help,” he said. “And it is not just a matter of praying for peace. They need a lot – food, resources, clothes, everything. They need everything.”
For decades, Christians endured persecution in Iraq by hardline extremists as infidel “people of the book” – but their fate became significantly more dire in 2014 after ISIS overran Mosul and the many ancient Christian villages surrounding the city. Thousands of families overnight were forced to flee their home, and while some have sought refuge in the northern Kurdish region, many have left the country altogether.
taken from the balcony of the home of one of the christian missionaries we visited.

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