13th April 2017

40 Days Of Prayer To Answer The Cry

 

HOLY WEEK: DAY 4

 

Yesterday we focused on Jesus' words of trust: "Yet not what I will, but what you will." Today we focus our thoughts, hopes and prayers on Iraq.

 

Population: 38 million (July 2016 estimate); Shia Muslim 60-65%, Christian 0.8%, other 0.5%; literacy 85.7% men 73.7% women

 

"My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me." John 17:20-21

 

What is now Iraq was the birthplace of Abraham, the "father" in faith of Jews and Christians (Romans 4:16). For centuries together with Syria Iraq was also the homeland of Syriac-speaking Christians. Sadly, the chaos following the fall of Saddam Hussein and the invasion of so-called Islamic State (IS) have led to mass emigration by Christians. From 1.5 million in 2003, perhaps 150,000 remain.

 

So what hope is there for the Christians of Iraq and for this land that has seen so much bloodshed? Today, let’s pray again with the eyes of faith the faith of Abraham who believed God’s promise, and the faith of Iraqi Christians who still pray to return to their homes.

 

Around 100,000 Christians fled to Iraqi Kurdistan in 2014. Last November several thousand there united to celebrate the liberation of some of their towns from IS and to pray for their return home. SAT-7 broadcast this "Christ Day" event. Maher Barbary, director of Life Agape Iraq, which organised it, said, "Pray for our situation because we believe that Iraq still has hope."

 

Since then, the government-backed operation to overcome IS has progressed well. The East half of Iraq’s second city of Mosul has been recaptured and commentators expect the West to be retaken soon.

 

Increasing numbers of the Christian community want to return to their home areas, but first they must have some guaranteed protection and devastated homes and infrastructure need rebuilding. Pray that the Iraqi government and international community will not forget them. In a traumatised land where much trust has been broken, Christians could be agents of peace and reconciliation.

 

Waleed is the father of Myriam, a young girl whose interview on SAT-7 went viral in 2014 when she said she would forgive IS for taking her home. Waleed told SAT-7 that the source of peace "isn’t in a house or in the land. Even in fire you can have the peace of Jesus. As long as we have it we will be stronger than those who threw us out."

 

PRAY: that terrorists will turn from evil, for the rebuilding of Iraq, and that people of all faiths will be able to live in safety and peace.

 

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