IRAQI CHRISTIANS IN CRISIS
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IRAQI CHRISTIANS IN CRISIS
This has been a tumultuous year in the Middle East nation of Iraq, and Christians are facing serious threats.
But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you. (Psalm 5:11)
Iraq’s Christian community dates back to the 1st Century, and less than 20 years ago they numbered 1.5 million strong in that ancient land. Now only a fraction remain, and most of them live in the Ninevah Plain or Kurdistan. After the fall of Saddam Hussein, the unrest in the decade that followed led hundreds of thousands of them to leave their home. The rise of ISIS then made the situation absolutely horrific and intolerable.
Recent reports indicate that Christians are still under pressure. Protests erupted last fall and have continued on and off for months. Hundreds have been killed and many more wounded. In the midst of this strife, Iran-backed militias that helped defeat ISIS have increased their power in different regions and a power struggle is intensifying with the national forces in Baghdad.
According to International Christian Concern, these militias have been trouble for Christians in the past and many worry about what lies ahead. Claire Evans, ICC’s Regional Manager for the Middle East, said, “These militias have become so empowered that many local Christians afterwards have commented that they see no practical difference between the militias and ISIS. The Iraqi Central Government is under pressure to find ways to control these militias, but the militias do not want to be controlled.”
A new report from Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) reinforces this concern. According to ACN, 57 percent of Iraqi Christians in the Ninevah Plain have considered leaving. Most are concerned with security, particularly because of the militias. Almost a quarter of them say their families have suffered threats, injuries, theft, or other trouble from hostile groups. It is telling that 36 percent plan to leave Iraq in the next 5 years. ACN says that region had 102,000 Christians in 2014, but it estimates there could be only 23,000 by 2024.
The U.S. has worked to help Christians and other Iraqi religious minorities who were harmed by the genocidal ISIS regime. In fact, in a press conference, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo indicated that nearly half a billion dollars have gone to help Christians, Yezidis, and Shabak communities to recover.
Pompeo raised this matter with Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein while an Iraqi delegation was in Washington last week. Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, who came to power after a tumultuous 10 weeks this spring, made his first visit to the White House last Thursday. During the diplomatic talks surrounding that meeting, Pompeo highlighted that there was discussion about religious freedom, “a priority for the Trump administration and a key to the Iraqi nation’s flourishing.”
After discussing aid to help Christians and other minorities, Pompeo added, “Armed groups not under the full control of the prime minister have impeded our progress. Those groups need to be replaced by local police as soon as possible. I assured Dr. Fuad that we could help and that we would help.”
Christians are not only historic residents in Iraq, they remain active and compassionate citizens looking out for their neighbors. Would you intercede for them and for all our brother and sisters in Christ seeking to live faithfully for Him in the Middle East?
Aaron Mercer is a Contributing Writer with two decades of experience in Washington, D.C.’s public policy arena and Christian associations. A seasoned strategist, he aids organizations with research, analysis, and writing services, and he reflects on faith, technology, and the public square at FTPolicy.com. (Photo Credit: Getty Images.)
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Thank you for informing me how difficult these Christians are living under militia influence. So pleased how Pompei & President Trump has addressed this last week at their White House meeting. These Christians are my brother & sisters in Crist.
Pray for the persecuted church in Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Syria, N Korea and China. They are risking their lives to share the gospel!
Heavenly Father, wrap your awesome arms around these persecuted Iraqi Christians. Give them your peace through these difficult times. Protect them as you Make them invisible to the enemy Glory to you, my Lord.
Father, I come humbly yet boldly before Your Throne asking first that you would forgive my people in Iraq for every sin known or unknown that our forefathers may have committed against you that has continued to give the enemy a legal right and stronghold to operate in the region and in our lives. We repent Lord God. Father, I humbly yet boldly ask that you would summon a thousand of Your Waring Angels to stand shoulder to shoulder with the Prime Minister of Iraq and Your Chaldean and Christian People in Iraq. Father God have mercy on the Iraqi’s. Holy Spirit bring a Revival upon the land….do the impossible in Iraq Lord….send godly men and women who will come to their aid for Your glory and honor. Crush the enemies head and put this evil demonic force back into the pits of hell from where it came from! Cleanse the land from all demonic powers dating back to Adam and Eve. We bind the spirits of Jezebel, Ahab, Nimrod, Semiramus, Baal, and The King of Assyria. We break their powers in Jesus Name. We silence and cut off their food supply. We sever the silver cord. We loose YOUR Holy Spirit over them. We loose Your Spirit of love, unity, and peace among every groups of people. We apply the Blood of Jesus over the entire country of Iraq and the Iraqi People. I thank YOU in advance Lord for what YOU are about to do in Iraq and for Iraq. In the mighty, matchless name of Jesus Christ…Amen and Amen.