Iraq (MNN) — Tens of thousands of Iraqis took to the streets to
remember the 4th Anniversary of the fall of Baghdad. They draped themselves in
Iraqi flags and marched through the streets of two Shiite holy cities. Some demonstrators called for U.S.-led forces
to leave Iraq. The rally was ordered by powerful Shiite cleric
Mugtada al-Sadr, who also called on Iraqi police and army to help oust the U.S.
This type of militant Islamic activity has created more
problems for Christians living there. Glenn Penner with Voice of the Martyrs,
Canada, says, "With the rise of militant Islam (which was kept somewhat
under control by Saddam Hussein), Christians in Iraq now have come under fire
far more. And a good percentage of the Christian population now have actually
emigrated and have left the country."
For Christians, the climate in Iraq has been a subtle shift.
Penner says, "Christians were allowed to worship, probably with greater
freedom then they may even today. But they were not allowed to evangelize. Now it's not illegal to evangelize so much, but that evangelization comes
at a far greater risk of acts of violence against them by Muslim
Many of these believers are now in Jordan and Syria. VOM-Canada is providing resources for
believers there. "The literature and the Bibles that we [are] providing are particularly [being used] to help in
their outreach to their Muslim neighbors," says Penner.
While many Christians have already left Iraq, Penner says, "I
have no indication that the flow of Christians out of the Iraq is going to be
stemmed at all. In many parts of the country there seems to be more of an
urgency to get out. To be honest, I don't see anything getting better."
Unfortunately, the ones leaving are "often the ones
that are able to leave, the ones that the church can ill afford to lose,"
says Penner. "[They are] sometimes ones that are better educated, the ones
that have greater financial resources, the ones who are younger."
VOM-Canada needs your financial support to help Christians
not only in Iraq but also outside the country. "They haven't gone to the Promised Land, and they find that out. And we also need to find ways of
effectively ministering them as well, as they find themselves in a situation of
being refugees with nowhere else to go."