Iraq’s younger generation religious tolerance may open doors of the Gospel

By May 17, 2010

Iraq (MNN) — There have been more violent acts against Christians in Iraq. However, this time their Muslim peers will not tolerate it.

Due to increased dangers against Christians, many have taken refuge at a safe enclave in the Nineveh Plains. Over 1,000 Christian students who live there attend Mosul University, and 15 buses usually take them from the enclave to the university each day.

Paul Estabrooks of Open Doors USA said recently this routine was upset: "On May the 2nd, three of these buses were convoying together. A suicide bomber got in between bus number one and bus number two and exploded … Meanwhile, then another bomb that had been planted on the third bus exploded."

Around 100 students were hospitalized following the attack, and a civilian who came to help the students was killed in the second blast. Since the bombings occurred, students have not gone back to school because they fear for their lives.

However, Christians are not the only ones not attending classes. "The lecturers and professors and the Muslim students have started a sit-in … to protest the inability of Christian students to come to school in safety."

Estabrooks said other students are very outspoken about their support for the Christian students and refuse to attend classes again until everyone can.

The act of a sit-in is unprecedented among Muslims and Christians in Iraq. Yet, Estabrooks said it well encapsulates the attitude of the younger generation.

"At the university, there's very little animosity between the two religious groups," he said. This also extends to many young Muslims and Christians across Islamic nations, where they are more willing to approach each other's differences much more peaceably.

This may open doors for the Gospel: "Whenever people get to understand and listen to one another, then [there is] the opportunity for sharing why you believe what you believe and why you act as you act," Estabrooks said.

Pray for these Christians to share with their peers why they continue to hold strongly to their faith, even in the midst of danger. Pray that the Muslim students' open attitudes will present many opportunities to share Christ and for these students to receive the hope found in Him.

Pray also for Open Doors as they continue to minister to the Christians who have remained in Iraq and for this support system to help individuals remain strong in the face of danger.

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