Iraqi Christians cast their ballots with an eye on a hopeful future.

By February 1, 2005

Iraq (MNN)–Historic elections in Iraq saw nearly 72-percent of voters turn out this past weekend to take a hand in shaping the direction of their country.

Iraqi Christians also saw a high turnout with hope the new government would bring security for them. They were choosing a 275-member National Assembly and Baghdad’s provincial council. The results will be known in the next ten days.

Open Doors Ministries’ Jerry Dykstra explains why so many believers braved threats of insurgent violence to cast their ballots. “Christians need to be represented in the new government. Of course, they will be drafting the country’s new Constitution, and they will be electing a President and two vice-presidents in the future. It’s all so important, for Christians, especially, they need a voice. They cannot be marginalized any further.”

Christians make up around three percent of Iraq’s 26 million people. The major Christian groups in Iraq include Chaldean-Assyrians and Armenians.

Iraqi officials estimate that as many as 15,000 Iraqi Christians have left the country since August, when four churches in Baghdad and one in the northern city of Mosul were attacked in a coordinated series of car bombings. The attacks killed 12 people and injured 61 others. But the attempts to intimidate didn’t stop there. Another church was bombed in Baghdad in September. More threats of violence came against the church leaders, including one who was kidnapped in the weeks approaching the election.

The message was clear. But it didn’t stop the Christians from making their voices heard, and uncertain times still lie ahead.

Dykstra says, whatever the outcome, their teams are committed to evangelistic ministry. “We are delivering Bibles and a lot of literature for use. We’ve opened a Christian bookstore, so our ministry continues there. Of course, we’re awaiting the results of what happened and that could [determine] our ministry there.”

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