Sunday, March 18, 2007

Are You Praying for God's Glory to be Seen in Iraq?



  • A broken and demoralized society is the fruit of a past harsh dictatorship and the present war against terrorism. A small Sunni Arab minority and an elite within it had repressed the Shi’ite majority in the south and Kurdish majority in the north. Efforts at establishing a national government with the help of the United States and the United Nations are slow and frought with murderous opposition.
  • Pray for:
  • The binding of the evil spiritual powers that brood over this land.
  • A viable, indigenous government to arise that unites and rebuilds the shattered country.
  • Adequate material and social help for the millions of refugees in Iran, Jordan, Turkey and the West.
  • The provision of the needs of children and young people. One million children are suffering from chronic malnutrition and 300,000 were estimated to have died.
  • The Christian community which is largely Assyrian with some Armenians. The Assyrians are descendants of the Nestorian or Ancient Church of the East; in two denominations since 1964. The Nestorian Church became one of the greatest missionary denominations of history, winning 6% of all of Asia’s population 1,000 years ago. It is reduced to less than 2 million in the world today through persecution, compromise and harassment. About one third of all Christians left Iraq in the 1990s and are a high proportion of the Iraqi refugee population. Pray for a restoration of their biblical heritage, present revival beginnings to spread and a vision for outreach. Many Assyrians are studying the Scriptures in ‘Light Clubs’ in the churches.
  • Most Assyrians are members of the Catholic-linked Chaldean Church and some became Evangelicals through the activity of foreign missionaries in the past 150 years. Pray for revival and growth in this Church. Only recently has there been an openness to reach the Muslim majority. There are now a growing number of Kurdish and Arab believers. Emigration is a major ‘disease’; pray for Christians willing to remain as lights in the darkness.
  • The few Evangelicals are mainly confined to the cities. They were persecuted in the 1960s and ‘70s and numbers declined. God gave revivals in the 1980s and house groups multiplied - from one in Baghdad to over 300 for a time. There are around 70 evangelical congregations in Iraq, but conversions are doing little more than replacing those who are emigrating. Pray for these believers, their walk with the Lord and their witness to non-Christians. A small but growing number of Arabs and Kurds are seeking the Lord, both in Iraq and among Iraqi refugees in Jordan and elsewhere.
  • Leadership for the churches is a desperate need. Many good leaders have had to flee. Some Iraqis are in training in Jordan, Lebanon and elsewhere. Pray that many may return to Iraq.
  • All peoples are unreached apart from Assyrian and Armenian minority groups. Pray specifically for:
  • The Shi’a Arabs of Basra and the south. There is no known direct witness to them.
  • The Sunni Arabs - few have heard the gospel.
  • The Madan or Marsh Arabs - There is no known outreach to them.
  • The Bedouin, Persians and Gypsies are all totally unreached.
  • The Kurds have caught the attention of the world. They have fought for survival and a national identity for 70 years. The period 1985-91 was particularly bloody and cruel. Iraqi atrocities have included the razing of 3,800 villages and towns (including 61 Christian Assyrian villages), destruction of the local economy, mining of fields, deportation of 500,000 to distant camps, and killing of up to 250,000. In the aftermath of the Gulf War in 1991 almost the entire Kurdish population became refugees.
  • The Church. Assyrian Christians have suffered much persecution, destruction of villages and intimidation first by Saddam and then by the Kurds. Assyrian Christians have been reduced by emigration to 45,000.
  • The growing number of Kurdish believers have also suffered intimidation and several have been martyred, but the little church fellowships are growing with new converts being added. Pray that a vibrant, united Kurdish Church might impact every part of Northern Iraq.
  • The unevangelized in Kurdish north: a) The Yezidi are a syncretistic offshoot of both Zoroastrianism and Islam. They speak Kurdish and are known as ‘devil’ worshippers. There are very few believers. b) The Turkoman are a distinct Turkic people numbering between 1 and 2.5 million, but ‘claimed’ by the Kurds as Kurds. There are no known believers.

The above is a modified excerpt from Operation World Web Site (www.operationworld.org), March 19, 2007. Copyright ©2001 Patrick Johnstone.

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