Iraq (39 million people) has been a patchwork of competing forces since the US-led ousting of former strongman Saddam Hussein in 2003. Government in this largely Muslim land have been mostly Shia-led but have struggled to rebuild the country in the face of corruption, division and sectarian violence. Most Iraqi families have experienced trauma.
Iraq’s traditional Christian community is a survivor from the 1st century. Its many sufferings, and particularly the rise of ‘Islamic State’ led many to flee. With the defeat of IS, traditional Christians are returning to their villages on the Nineveh Plain. Iraq’s instability continues to threaten their safety, though, especially at the hands of other Islamist groups.
Out of the conflict, an Iraqi evangelical church has also emerged, perhaps 50,000 strong, a dramatic increase since the few hundreds of evangelicals in Saddam Hussein’s time. Many of them have Muslim or even extremist backgrounds. They encountered Christ through evangelical witness, gospel radio, and especially through visions and dreams of Jesus.
Unreached peoples in Iraq are many: the Shia Arabs of the south, the Marsh Arabs (who are possibly descendants of the ancient Sumerians), and the more than one million Bedouin.
- Pray for leaders for the churches. Some male leaders have been killed, targeted by Islamists. Many times their widows have continued with the pastoral and discipleship work.
- The Kurdish people live mostly in their autonomous region within Iraq. Kurds too have seen the birth and growth of an evangelical church, a first for their people. Praise God for this movement to Christ and pray for it to deepen and widen.
- Iraq has suffered years of war, invasion, corruption and violence. Iraqis have seen the destruction of the basic infrastructure that underpins civilisation. ‘Liberation’ has not liberated them. Pray for the healing of the nation.