Iraq (MNN) — Muslim extremists
are warning Christians in Iraq to leave the country immediately or risk violent
death. The threat mentions believers in Baghdad and Mosul–already troubled
Voice of the Martyrs reports that
an Iraqi bishop received a letter from the General Secretariat of the Islam
Supporters warning Christians in Baghdad and other areas to "leave the country
of Muslims (Iraq) for good and immediately in the form of mass transmigration."
It continues: "You can follow Pope
Benedict XVI and his followers who have disfigured humanity and
Islam," the letter said. "There's no more room for you, infidels, among the
Iraqi Muslims. Our swords shall be placed upon your necks and the necks of your
followers and other Christians residing in Mosul."
Jerry Dykstra of Open Doors USA confirms
the hostility against followers of Christ. "Christians are just being further marginalized, as we've heard the
reports of random violence. It comes down to this: Christians there are being
targeted because of their faith in Jesus Christ."
Sunni Muslim insurgents have
frequently targeted members of Iraq's Christian minority. Iraq's current government is Shiite-led. As a result, Christians have found that they are in the crossfire. Many thousands have already fled to neighboring
Christians make up roughly 3.3
percent of Iraq's people. It's estimated that the remnant church is
well below the 500,000 believers who were in Iraq before the Iraq war.
Still, Christians in Iraq remain
strong in their faith. Dykstra says "the Gospel is going forward, and people are coming to Christ.
People have to meet more in secret, but the good thing is that when they meet
in secret, they're praising the Lord and lifting up their needs."
Pray for ministry opportunities for churches and Christian relief organizations working in Iraq.
Teams have to work carefully. Dykstra says even though the church is
Open Doors has put programs in place in literacy training and praying with
them that will help Christians."
Iraq is 17th on the Open Doors World Watch List of top 50 countries known for their persecution of Christians.