“Christmas is coming, but peace does not exist in Iraq. Pray for us to have a peaceful Christmas. God is so good, and I love Him so much. Please pray for me…”
Open Doors received the above request in a letter from Martha, an Iraqi mother who has suffered through the recent carnage and attacks on Christians in Baghdad, which included almost 58 murders and 75 wounded, mostly Christians, at Our Lady of Salvation Church on Oct. 31.
Muslim extremists in Iraq have killed a total of around 80 Christians over the last several weeks. Most of the murders have occurred in Baghdad and in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul. In the latest violence, armed militants kidnapped a young female student on Dec. 15 and a gunman killed an elderly Christian couple in their home in Baghdad on Dec. 5. Earlier, four Christians were gunned down in Mosul, including a 6-year-old girl. Last week Pope Benedict XVI said Christians are the most persecuted religious group in the world, especially believers in the Middle East.
Open Doors received the following report from a Christian in northern Iraq, “The exodus of Iraqi Christians is continuing and 507 families have landed in Kurdistan, where security conditions are relatively stable. Many more families have fled abroad, mainly to Syria, Jordan and Turkey. Baghdad is the last remaining city with a sizeable Christian community, but thousands are said to have fled due to the latest upsurge in anti-Christian violence.”
Since 1991 the number of Christians living in Iraq has been reduced from an estimated 850,000 to an estimated 345,000. Many were forced to leave family homes due to persecution and the overall violent, hopeless situation. Dr. Carl Moeller, president/CEO of Open Doors USA, labels the attacks against the believers in Iraq as “religion-cide.” He states, “Right now Christians in Baghdad and Mosul are gripped by terrorism. Extremists want to eliminate Christians from Iraq. There likely will not be peace in Iraq this Christmas. The only answer is the Prince of Peace. Please join me in prayer for our beleaguered brothers and sisters in Christ in Iraq this Christmas season.”
Father our hearts break as we think of our persecuted Iraqi brothers and sisters who live in fear, especially during the Christmas season. We ask that Your love and peace be ever-present and will warm their hearts despite the opposition they face. Father we also specifically pray for the church leaders, may they remain strong as they minister to Your flock; bless them with wisdom and the spirit of forgiveness in the name of Jesus. And Father, going forward into 2011, we ask that You provide a safe place, a refuge for all Iraqi Christians. Shield them from those who intend harm, and bless them with comfort and for all of their daily needs.
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