Iraq (MNN) — A suicide bomber has rattled confidence even
amongst Sunni Muslims in Iraq.
On August 21, the attacker blew himself up inside Baghdad's
largest Sunni mosque. Todd Nettleton with Voice of the
Martyrs says, "Twenty-eight people lost their lives, so it's a significant
attack, a significant bombing, and one more thing in a long line of items that
make us worry about the stability of Iraq, particularly as U.S. troops pull
What makes this attack even more noteworthy is that a member
of parliament was among the victims. Early into the investigation, explains Nettleton, "They are suspicious
of al Qaeda, in spite of the fact that this was a Sunni Mosque and the
predominant faith within al Qaeda is Sunni Islam. It seems odd that al Qaeda
would orchestrate an attack on a Sunni mosque."
Even as authorities investigate the "how's" and the "why's,"
there is one minority group to whom the message is well-defined. Nettleton says it stands to reason that if a
bomber can get inside a Sunni mosque to kill so many, a bomber could easily
attack a church body. "The message
is very clear for Christians who would gather together for worship: 'You're not
immune to this kind of violence.' I think
the other thing is just the overall stability of the country. That can be both
a challenge and an opportunity because as there is so much upheaval, there are opportunities
to be a witness for Christ."
Bombings of Christian religious institutions have been
common throughout the process of democracy. Obviously targeted by the militant
Islamic groups active in Iraq, thousands
of believers have fled to neighboring countries. Today, Christians form around 1.6% of Iraq's population, according to Joshua Project.
Nettleton agrees that within the remnant church, "this can be a time for evangelism and a
time for revival. But it obviously comes at a price, because the instability affects
everyone inside the country." Isolation and discouragement can disrupt the work of sharing the hope of
VOM teams have not given up trying to reach those who've
been forced underground. "We're involved in aid to Christians who are
affected by persecution. One of the other significant points of our work in Iraq,
as well as other nations, is simply getting Scriptures into the hands of the
Keep praying for stability in the days ahead. If the aim is to stir up trouble, there's
precedence behind the move. Five years
ago, an attack on a Shiite shrine in Samarra triggered a period of civil
warfare in which thousands died. In the
chaos, the balance of power tipped somewhat. With a power vacuum forming in Iraq, everything is up for grabs.
VOM Action Packs are one way to encourage believers. Click
here for more.