An Open Doors contact in Baghdad emailed that, “Each hour the news [in Iraq] gets worse. The violence is unbelievable. Please pray for Iraq and the remaining Christians.” A modern-day exodus of Christians is going on in Iraq. Sectarian violence has caused tens of thousands of Christians to flee since the beginning of the war. An estimated 345,000 Christians live in Iraq today; there were nearly 850,000 in 1991. Those who remain feel that the government fails to protect them from the recent wave of threats, robbery, rape, kidnapping, and church bombings. Though Northern Iraq – an area commonly called Kurdistan – has long been known as a safe haven for Christians, even in this region the situation for Christians has deteriorated due to Islamic extremism.
“The terror in Iraq recently is the worst in several years,” continued the contact. “There have also been major Al Qaida threats to everyone, especially the Christians. After last week’s violence, communication is terrible. It is not really possible to describe the devastation here in Baghdad. Over 100 have been killed. Security has been targeted…. We are used to bad problems here in Baghdad but the violence is just quite unbelievable; 12 car bombs, two suicide bombers on motor bikes. Scores of police and soldiers killed. We no longer have any security. While our people have not been killed, the injuries sustained to others are severe. There have also been new serious threats from Abu Baker Al Hussani, the head of Al Qaida in Iraq.”
In the face of escalating violence and uncertainty, the church looks to Christ for strength. “Despite all of this we do not give up and do not fear. We keep praising the Holy One who never leaves us. In the church we have been looking at Psalm 23. When people ask me what they should pray for us here in Iraq, I say it should be the 3 P’s. Protection, Provision and Perseverance. It is these three things that Psalm 23 deals with.”
Father, we lift up to You our brothers and sisters who remain in Iraq, asking that You would protect them with Your strong right arm. Many Christian refugees have been displaced from their homes, and we pray that You would provide places of shelter from violence and weather, and food to sustain their lives. We call on You for Your intervention in governmental affairs that they might rule with justice and provide protection from the relentless terrorism that exists in Iraq today. In the midst of daily threats, wash over the Christians with Your peace and strengthen them to persevere in faith. In the name of Jesus our only refuge, Amen.