Troop pullout could mean chaos for ministry in Iraq

By March 15, 2007

Iraq (MNN) — U-S senators Wednesday voted overwhelmingly to
debate a measure demanding that President George W Bush withdraw most U-S
combat troops from Iraq by the end of March 2008. If approved it would almost
certainly be vetoed by the president. Talk of such a move concerns Christians
working in Iraq.

Charles, who works with Partners International in northern
Iraq, says this will have a negative impact on the Iraqi people. "The
chaos in Iraq, especially in the southern and central area of Baghdad, is going
to intensify. What that will mean for us primarily is more refugees, especially
Christians. In the uncertainty of the situation (they'll) feel like it's time
for them and their families to get out."

That will mean more people heading to Northern Iraq, Jordan
and Syria to get away.

In the meantime, God has opened a door for evangelism in the
region that's nothing short of amazing, says Charles. "Partners
International has helped start three schools, working with our partner
ministry, who are now enrolling children in a Christian curriculum and actually
from a very young age (they're) learning about Jesus. 95-percent [of them are] from
a Muslim/Kurdish background."

Not everything is good news. Charles says, "Kurdish
Christians are not being allowed to change their religious identity, which is
marked in their passport and all their official documents.  Even children of a pastor can not have his
children listed as Christian."

While they do have unique freedoms, there is a new wind
blowing. "There is an Islamic movement that doesn't like the freedom
that the present administration has given the Christians. So, we need to continue praying for our brothers and sisters."

Currently Partners is helping build a school, but the work
isn't done yet. "We have a need of $200,000 for the completion of this
school. And the neat thing is that [most of these projects] have been self
sustaining."

Prayer and financial support is also needed for theological
training. "We have many, many new Christians in Northern Iraq. We're
excited about working with the Jordanian seminary, which has an extension up
there. And, that extension is going to provide the leadership for the Iraqi
church, I believe, in the coming years."


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