Iraqi Christians living in fear and pray for safety.

By April 21, 2004

Iraq (MNN/OD) — Open Doors with Brother Andrew – a worldwide ministry to the Persecuted Church – has received information from several sources that Iraqi Christians and churches are seriously affected by the internal turmoil in Iraq.

Not only are foreigners being kidnapped in increasing numbers, but indigenous Iraqi Christians are disappearing. According to a bishop of an Assyrian-speaking church, four members were kidnapped last week. The Iraqi believers stress that in most cases where Iraqi Christians are the victims, the violence is not being caused by radical Islamists, but more often by young people trying to make some easy money.

Open Doors’ Jerry Dykstra says, “Many Christians are afraid to go out to church meetings and live in constant fear. It’s also affected Open Doors and its training. Some of that training has been scaled back or brought to other countries because of (its) dangerous traveling in Iraq.” However, Dykstra concedes all Iraqis are facing similar fears.

This month marks the one year anniversary of the fall of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. April has seen some of the fiercest fighting of the conflict.

According to some Christian leaders, there is little hope for major improvement in the near future. It is hard to find capable people to govern the country. After the Gulf War, a huge brain drain took place. Many highly educated-people left the country, going primarily to Jordan and Syria.

Christians hope and pray that by the fall of 2004 new leadership may bring peace and stability. Stability and security are the two top prayer requests mentioned by Iraqi Christians, who number approximately 500,000.

It’s not all bad news for Open Doors. Dykstra says, “Open Doors has been distributing Christian literature there. We’ve been operating and supporting Christian book stores in a few cities. We’ve been sending over devotional material for young people. We’re doing a lot of ministry there.”

“Iraq remains a very dangerous place not only for American troops, but for our Iraqi Christian brothers and sisters,” says Open Doors USA President Dr. Carl Moeller. “Pray for security and for stability in Iraq. Pray that Christians there can worship in peace and in freedom. Pray that Open Doors’ projects can continue.”

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