Local Missionaries in Iraq
Rocked by political unrest due to high levels of corruption and unemployment, Iraq is also still trying to recover from destruction to homes and basic services infrastructure from the invasion by Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorists from 2014 to 2017. Many people remain displaced in the country that is 95.8 percent Muslim.
About 1.4 percent of the population practices ethnic religions, and 1.3 percent of Iraq’s people identify as Christian. Of those, 49 percent are Orthodox, 41.9 percent Roman Catholic, and 0.2 percent evangelical.
Iraq’s various ethnic groups include Arabs, Kurds, Assyrians, Turkmen, Shabakis, Yazidis, Armenians, Mandaeans and Circassians. The official languages of Iraq are Arabic and Kurdish.
Amid the unrest and disruption of lives, local missionaries are finding unprecedented opportunities to share the gospel among the internally displaced and refugees from Syria and other countries. Barely able to keep up with requests for Scripture, they need assistance to purchase Bibles and New Testaments. They distribute these in outreaches on the street, in home visits, as they travel, and as they distribute aid to refugees and the displaced, with demand especially high during Christmas season outreaches.
Evangelistic events geared toward children provide opportunities to share the gospel with their parents as well. Local missionaries need funding to train youth leaders and other leaders, as well as disciples who need to be equipped to share their faith and plant house churches. Some of these churches are forming in refugee camps for Syrians. Workers also need support to cover monthly living expenses.
Local missionaries put in long hours meeting the needs of food, clothing, baby formula and other relief items for the internally displaced and for refugees. A mobile medical clinic provides health care to people who would never have access to such help, with workers also praying with patients and sharing the hope of the gospel.
Sources: Joshua Project, Wikipedia
How to Pray for
- Pray that Muslims putting their faith in Christ will be protected from opposition and will find new community in Christian fellowship.
- Pray for outreaches to Yazidis and Kurds and the growth of house churches planted in various outreaches.
- Pray that resources will become available to meet local missionaries’ physical and spiritual needs amid the risks of the COVID-19 pandemic.
More stories from Iraq
In evangelism training for Christians who were raised as Muslims, new believers from every province enjoyed fellowship as they learned how to share the Bible with Muslims. Native ministry workers also taught them ways for Christians of Muslim upbringing to meet the dangers of living in Islamic society in a way pleasing to the Lord.
Native Christian workers have multiple opportunities to share the gospel as they distribute Bibles, tend to the needs of refugees and the internally displaced and bring medical care to the poor. Workers with a native ministry’s mobile medical clinic share Christ daily with those receiving treatment, along with praying with them and providing them Bibles.
Ministering to people of varied ethnicities and religions, native Christian workers focused on one group after their ethnic religious rite. “The Lord allowed many of them to accept Christ after we delivered the gospel and Bibles to them,” the ministry leader said.
The father of a displaced family in Iraq recently told Christian workers how he loaded up 21 relatives onto a pick-up truck to flee Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists in 2014. “Fadhil* suddenly saw in the mirror that his daughter, Lina*, had fallen from the vehicle, and the wheels of ISIS were not far behind them,” the native ministry leader said. “He was faced with a painful choice: Should he stop for his daughter, or continue on to save the rest of his family?” Silently agonized, Fadhil said nothing to his relatives of what he had seen.
Security issues keep Christians from attending local churches in many areas, but they grow in the Lord through worship and study of God’s Word through a WhatsApp group, including questions and answers. In addition, about three times a year new Christians who wish to devote themselves to winning Muslims to Christ are trained in effective ways to communicate the gospel.