Bloody week in Iraq raises terror concerns

By August 17, 2011

Iraq (MNN) — Although no one claimed the bloodiest day this
year for Iraq, the attacks this week bore the hallmark of al Qaeda.

Suicide bombers, car bombs, and roadside explosives hit more
than a dozen Iraqi cities and towns. The
explosions killed roughly 70 people. Homes, business and houses of worship were
targeted. 

Todd Nettleton with Voice of the Martyrs says the group behind
the Monday assault was sending a message. "When you talk about more than
40 attacks coordinated all across the entire country, you're talking about: 'We're still here and we
can make a lot of trouble.' I think the
other message that they're sending is: 'You should be very afraid.'"

As U.S. troops draw down and leave Iraq, the Christians there
have a very real concern. Nettleton explains
that they're wondering if the government can respond to the threats against
them. Believers are asking, "Who will protect us? Who will
make sure that our churches are not bombed, that our people are not attacked and
killed?" Nettleton says, "There's a very real concern
about what role the Iraqi government will play in providing protection for the Christian
citizens of Iraq to meet together, to gather for worship."  

Attempts to destabilize the region have been ongoing, but
there has been a concerted effort to erase the presence of the Christians in Iraq
since the beginning of the war. Watchdog
groups like Open Doors USA and Voice of the Martyrs have been calling the eradication
effort a "religicide."

According to Open Doors' statistics, there are fewer than
250,000 Christians who call Iraq home. Thousands more are reported to have fled
to neighboring countries. The resilience
of the insurgency threatens to disrupt outreach efforts.

Nettleton says their teams are active in many directions,
but the two most obvious are through Bible distribution and Action Packs.   

Whenever possible, VOM will distribute complete copies of
the Bible. Where it is too dangerous or costly to deliver complete Bibles, VOM
will deliver New Testaments.

When participants  order an Action Pack, Voice of
the Martyrs will send a special
pre-printed vacuum bag and a list of suggested items which are needed. Participants purchase items, fill the bags, and ship them back to The Voice of the
Martyrs who will distribute them along with a color Gospel storybook, He Lived Among Us.

These help keep believers encouraged. Nettleton says the projects allow Christians
to answer these questions: "How do we live out the Gospel? How do we share our faith with the people
around us when there's so much danger and so much threat?"

Equipped with these tools, the resources of the church are
also keeping doors open to share the hope of the Gospel. "The other thing
that comes to mind is acts of love and service," says Nettleton. "We've heard of churches in Iraq
that are providing medical clinics, medical care, and medicines. They are
really seeking to be Christ."

Is it effective? Nettleton thinks so. "When all around you
is turmoil, and yet you have a peace in your heart and a peace on your face,
that is a witness in and of itself, without ever saying anything."

Pray for protection for Christians during this time of
upheaval and danger. Pray for ministry
opportunities for churches and Christian relief organizations working in Iraq.
Nettleton adds,
"We can pray for the salvation of the attackers, the troublemakers,
the people in Iraq, to come to know Christ in a personal way."

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