Pray for the Christians in Iraq
In justice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
–Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Whether you agree or disagree with the decision for the United States to go to war with Iraq and whether you agree with the decision for the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq on August 31, 2010, the war in Iraq has created a deadly, unintended consequence that needs to be resolved. The dismantling of the Saddam Hussein regime has left an already vulnerable part of the population virtually defenseless. The small group of Christians in the overwhelmingly Muslim country have been the targets of cruel violence because of their faith. Christians in Iraq have not benefited from the newly established democratic government; rather they have been more vulnerable to attacks by extremist Muslims who view Christian Iraqis as traitors to their heritage and an affront to the Muslim cause.
Over the weekend, Christians in Iraq endured six church bombings (http://www.cbn.com/cbnnews/world/2009/July/Car-Bomb-Explodes-Outside-Iraqi-Church/) http://www.cbn.com/cbnnews/world/2009/July/Car-Bomb-Explodes-Outside-Iraqi-Church/in a 24-hour period. Four Iraqis lost their lives in the bombings. While this violence against Iraqi Christians is horrendous, unfortunately, it is not new. Countless deaths and injuries from church bombings have occurred in the aftermath of the US led invasion of Iraq. According to recent news reports, more than half of Iraqi Christians have fled the country (http://www.cbn.com/cbnnews/world/2009/May/Iraqi-Christians-Flee-Country-For-Safety/) since the start of the war.
While some Iraqi Christians have formed militias (http://www.cbn.com/cbnnews/shows/cwn/2008/November/Iraqi-Christians-Form-Militias-for-Protection-/) to try and protect themselves and fellow Christians from the intense threat of violence, and Iraqi Christian churches have provided refuge (http://www.cbn.com/cbnnews/shows/cwn/2009/January/Church-Helps-Christians-in-War-Torn-Iraq-/) and hope for many of our Christian brothers and sisters who find themselves scorned and viewed by many as public enemies because of their faith in Christ, the existence of Christians in Iraq is marred by fear and terror. Knowing that all human beings are made in the image of God and considering that God is a God of justice, I'm sure we can all agree that something must be done to correct this human rights violation. The question is "What can we do?"
While I freely admit that I do not have the answer to rectify this geopolitical problem, I want to encourage you to join me in praying for the Christians in Iraq. Also, let's pray for the government leaders of both Iraq and the United States so that God will grant them wisdom as they seek to restore peace and institute democracy in the tumultuous region.
Lori G. Baynard is a Sider Scholar and an Ayers Scholar at Palmer Theological Seminary in Wynnewood, Pa., where she is pursuing a masters of theological studies in Christian Faith and Public Policy.
The Voice of the Martyrs (http://www.persecution.com/public/homepage.aspx?clickfrom=bWFpbl9tZW51) offers a global perspective on the persecution of God's children.
The Institute for Global Engagement (http://www.globalengage.org/) promotes sustainable environments for religious freedom worldwide. It studies the impact of faith on state and society, encourages governments to protect religious freedom, and equips citizens to exercise that freedom responsibly.