(Washington, D.C.) — Please pray for Christians in Iraq, as well as all of Iraqis, as the ISIS jihadist offensive intensifies — and share this with others to pray, as well.
Now that U.S. military forces have all been withdrawn, the radical Islamist groups have launched a “surge” of their own, one that they have been preparing for quite some time. There is a real danger now that Iraq could completely collapse and soon be in the hands of Radicals.
The Christians of Iraq are particularly vulnerable. By the grace of God, I have had the opportunity to travel into Iraq four times since its liberation, usually with members of The Joshua Fund team. We have met with and encouraged Christian pastors and ministry leaders. We have prayed with the persecuted believers there, and invested in humanitarian relief projects, evangelism projects and Bible teaching conferences. I even had the joy of teaching at one of those pastor retreats, as several pastors and I taught through the Book of Philippians, verse by verse. We have had the chance to see what very difficult lives these brothers and sisters face, and we are deeply concerned for what is happening there now, especially in the province of Ninevah, where Mosul is located. Indeed, Mosul is the modern city where the ancient ruins of the city of Ninevah are located.
Please join us in faithfully interceding for the believers in Iraq as the situation goes from bad to worse.
Here are the latest, gloomy headlines:
- Iraq Battles Islamists in Saddam’s Hometown, 80 Miles From Baghdad (Bloomberg)
- Iraq Kurds take Kirkuk; Sunni militants surge toward Baghdad (Reuters)
- Iraq on the Brink as Islamists Have Own Surge (ABC News)
- How ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi became the world’s most powerful jihadist leader (Washington Post)
Following up on my blog posts of the last two days (here, and here), I wanted to make you aware of an email I just received from Open Doors, an evangelical Christian ministry to works to help persecuted Christians around the world, including in the Middle East.
Here is their statement:
“If this continues, Mosul soon will be emptied of Christians. This could be the last migration of Christians from Mosul.”
That’s the perspective of a representative of Open Doors in Iraq of the massive exodus of Christians and people of other faiths this week.
Some reports placed the numbers fleeing Mosul at 500,000 due to its seizure by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), an Iraq and Syria-based Sunni Muslim extremist group. Mosul is the second largest city in Iraq and former home to a significant number of Assyrian Christians. ISIS has now reportedly vowed to take over Baghdad.
Many of the Christians are fleeing with only the clothes on their backs to Kurdistan, an autonomous northern part of Iraq and considered a safer place. “The Islamist terrorists want to make Iraq a ‘Muslim only’ nation and as a result they want all Christians out,” says Open Doors USA President/CEO Dr. David Curry.
“The situation for Christians has deteriorated each year over the past 10 years. Iraqi Christians have faced kidnappings, threats and even death for being followers of Jesus. And they have little faith in their government to provide security as we see in the tragedy unfolding this week.”
The Open Doors representative for Iraq says that some of the Christians have found temporary shelter in nearby monasteries and in several schools in mainly Christian villages.
“When this goes on like this, Mosul soon will be emptied of Christians,” the Open Doors spokesman says. “Until Monday an estimated 1,000 Christian families still lived in Mosul.” A Christian man in Mosul told World Watch Monitor (WWM) that he “was able to make my wife and children leave Mosul, but now I am stuck in the house and can’t move.”
The crisis worries many Christians in Kurdistan.
A Christian refugee working in Erbil, an hour’s drive from Mosul, told WWM: “What is happening in Mosul now can badly affect our stay as refugees here in Kurdistan as some ISIS militia come from Syria. I hope this will make the United Nations work more on our papers for emigration and allow us to travel abroad as soon as possible; we applied to migrate to Europe.”
In the 1990’s the Christian population in Iraq was estimated at over 1.2 million. Open Doors places the number now at around 330,000. Iraq is ranked No. 4 of 50 countries on the Open Doors 2014 World Watch List of the worst persecutors of Christians….
- The refugees will find a safe place to stay
- The Christians who still remain in Mosul will feel the peace only the Lord can give
- An end to all bloodshed and instability in Iraq
- Learn more about the true stories of four remarkable heroes that really did escape the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz in the spring of 1994 to tell the world the truth about the genocide of the Jewish people by Adolf Hitler and his Nazi tyranny.
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- Learn more about The Joshua Fund (www.joshuafund.net). This an organization my wife and I founded in 2006 to educate and mobilize Christians to bless Israel and her Arab neighbors (including in Iraq) in the name of Jesus, including caring for the poor and needy with food and other humanitarian relief. Read our 2013 Donor Report. Please pray for our team. And please make a tax deductible, secure, on-line contribution. Thank you so much.
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