Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Prayer For Dear Iraq

Christians in Iraq request our renewed prayer as the crisis in their country continues to deepen.

During the night of 6th-7th August, Islamic State (IS) militants attacked towns and villages to the east and north of Mosul with mortars and heavy weapons. The protecting Kurdish Peshmerga forces withdrew, leaving the area to be seized by the IS. This area, including the towns of Qaraqosh, Karamlis, Bartella and Tel Kayf, is the ancestral home of Iraq's Christian communities and had the largest concentration of Christians in Iraq, including many who fled from Baghdad due to violence over the last few years. This area is now virtually emptied of Christians.

The Chaldean Catholic Patriarch has estimated that one hundred thousand Christians fled overnight, mostly on foot and with little or nothing in their possession. Many of these had already been displaced, having taken refuge in these towns in recent weeks after fleeing from Mosul. Most have now fled to cities in the Kurdish controlled areas nearby.

Earlier last week, the IS seized the city of Sinjar, a traditional home of the Yazidi minority, forcing two hundred thousand to flee to the surrounding mountain areas. There are many reports of atrocities, including summary executions of men and treatment of women as "spoils of war" (including abduction, forced marriage and rape).

The humanitarian needs of these displaced communities are overwhelming. Trapped Yazidi communities have suffered dehydration and starvation, and are grateful that air-drop operations have now started. Among Christians who have fled to Kurdish areas, many have taken refuge in Church halls and corridors, or in public schools, gardens and in the streets. There is an urgent need for water, food and shelter.

Church leaders have expressed deep concern for the future of the Christian presence in this area as many seek to emigrate. Asia News quotes Msgr Rabban Al-Qas, Chaldean Bishop of Amadiyah in the Kurdish controlled area, who says: "The majority of Christians want to get their documents and leave, go away, because they are afraid. Thousand of Christians want to escape." He notes that the lack of effective government in Baghdad is a key part of the problem.

In the midst of this existential threat to the church in Iraq the church continues to be involved in the distribution of aid without distinction as to religion. Msgr. Al-Qas asserts that the Chaldean Church "is active, and we witness our presence with love."

Iraqi Christians urge us to pray, asking that:

a. A permanent political solution would soon be found in Iraq, leading to the effective challenge of all who pursue violence and to the establishment of justice and a lasting peace b. All those who have been displaced will find sanctuary, receive the humanitarian assistance they need, and in time be able to return to their homes c. Christians in Iraq, and especially those who have been forced to flee their homes, will know the peace of Jesus, the protection of the Father and the comfort of the Spirit

If you'd like to accept Jesus into your life today, pray this simple prayer of God's love and grace today: Lord Jesus, I thank you for dying for all my sin; now Lord I invite you into my heart. Come and be my everything today and forever. Forgive my sin as I make You and you alone Lord in my life. Amen. Now read the book of God's love in the Bible: The book of John chapters 1-21. God promises He will guide your life. Pray and ask God to bring the right people into your life. God will guide you to the right church full of people who love His words in the Bible. Our God is so faithful. God bless you today.

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Water for Ishmael
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