Heroic Witness in Iraq

[Abu Daoud says: I got this all from Intentional Disciples over at blog.siena.org.]

This month's Lausanne World Pulse contains a luminous first person account of costly discipleship in Baghdad by an Anglican, the Rev’d Cannon Andrew White. Do read it in its entirety. Here are some snippets.

As I sit and write this article, I can hear automatic weapons firing. I cannot imagine the tragedy going on outside our compound at this very moment. Constantly, I have people asking me to help them escape to another nation. It is not pleasant to live in one of the most dangerous places on earth. Yet I know this is where my work is; this is where God has sent me and this is where I love to be, here in Baghdad, the capital of Iraq. Today is Sunday, so we had church this morning. As I led worship, I saw my congregation place their body armour, rifles and helmets aside and start to praise the living God.

Snip.

In the midst of this war and trauma, we have a gospel to proclaim, the good news of Jesus. The whole notion of evangelism must be treated totally and utterly different in this context. There is no preaching on the streets or encouraging your congregation to convert the masses. Such activity would result in certain death.

Despite these restrictions, there is ample opportunity to show and share the good news of Jesus. The prime way is through love and prayer. I have seen people come to faith in Jesus. I have baptised people and then sought to find protection for them as the death threats grew. One little girl whose mother became a Christian started telling friends that every night her mother talked to Jesus. It was not long before they also were forced to flee. I have wept when people I have loved had come to faith and then been killed. Here it is a matter of life and death.


Snip.

Despite the difficulties of serving Jesus in Baghdad, there are several things we, as God’s Church, must and can do.

1. Love
Jesus taught us to love our enemies. Although it is not easy to love bad people, God can give us the grace to do it. Throughout my life I have listened to countless sermons, telling us we do not have to like our enemies—we just have to love them. Love is reduced to not pursuing the negative of hate.

To this attitude I say nonsense! Love is real. It is difficult, it is costly and it changes lives because it enables people to see Jesus. In our context, it is not some liberal concept of evangelism without risks—even loving these people is taking great risks. Love does and has completely changed people.


Snip.

We also need to seriously pray. I have a small group of intercessors who pray and intercede for us in our work. Although I cannot always tell them what is really happening, they often know because God tells them. There have been countless times when our intercessors have told me they have been praying about actual things that happened which I have not told them about. We should expect our Lord to work in supernatural ways when we are dealing with supernatural things.

Snip.

The Christians here in Iraq are wonderful and have an amazing history. At Christmas their evangelistic activity is to have a party for the locals where they show them love and give them food. Before the event, the Christians seriously pray for the event. If we really support and love the people here, we will provide them with food, water and money so they can continue to show love so that the gospel will be made known.

5. Expect Miracles
In such trauma, we must rely on the miraculous more and more. When people are sick, ill and dying, we often have no doctors to take them to. They have either left or been killed. Jesus often comes and heals our sick people. Because of this, people of other faiths see we have a God of miracles and it is not long before they want to come to the Great Physician as well. They want something back in their loss and Jesus alone can give it to them. Even in the midst of this crisis, God is still real and full of love. When people see him, they are drawn to him. And as we continue to serve him, we love, pray, seek to understand our context and the local church and expect miracles.

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