Thursday, October 23, 2008

Sharing Christ's light in Iraq

Hundreds of Christian families have recently fled Mosul, Iraq, and those that have stayed behind have been threatened with violence. Some Christians have even paid for their faith in Jesus with their lives. In the many reports that we have received, a video posted by the Assyrian International News Agency particularly impacted me. This harrowing tale of a Christian family in Iraq demonstrates the immense need for God’s grace in this world. As ambassadors of Christ, we are called to be one in heart and mind with fellow believers, and we should feel compelled to pray for the Christians who are suffering in Iraq.

Acts 4:29-30 says, “Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus." We are incredibly privileged to have a Father who knows and cares for our every need. Even in the bleakest situations when it seems there is no hope, God equips His servants to stand strong and be a light to others. A recent report from ASSIST News tells how Christianity is spreading in Iraq despite the terrible violence. Below is an excerpt about an Iraqi family who came to know the truth of the Good News:

Over the past few years I had heard more and more of these conversions, now I was seeing them firsthand and witnessing the revival taking place among the Middle Eastern populations and in particular, the Iraqis.

Story after story flowed from the young Christian Iraqis. I listened to the incredible story of Fatima, a young lady who came from a very strict Sunni Muslim family in Baghdad. During Saddam Hussein's dictatorship, Fatima's father was a prominent member of the infamous Baath party until someone gave him an Arabic New Testament one day.

After reading about the sacrifice Jesus Christ had made for the sins of the world, her father was convicted and prayed to know this Jesus as his Savior. For over a year, Fatima's father secretly read his Bible and began to pray for his wife and his daughters that they too would see Christ for themselves. Fatima shared that her mom and sisters noticed a drastic change in their father's life, but had no idea of what had happened. One day, Fatima saw her mother in their kitchen crying. When asked what was troubling her, she exclaimed that she had seen a vision of a man in bright white during the night claiming he was God! Fatima's father couldn't contain his newfound faith any longer. In a gush of joy and tears, her father shared his conversion with his entire family and invited them to accept this Jesus too. Fatima beamed as she recounted how God's spirit came into their house as they too accepted Christ in to their hearts.

Eventually, more and more people became aware of Fatima's family's conversion to Christ. The persecution became so severe from the fundamentalist Islamic Sunni community that they were forced to leave their home and move to a safer place in Baghdad. Even so, Fatima's family rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer for the Lord and continue to grow in their faith and Christian witness. Later that afternoon, I met Fatima's father, mother and her two sisters and brother. All of them are shining examples of God's love for the Muslim world and they attend one of the fastest growing fellowships in Baghdad. They continue to share their faith openly with Muslims and anyone who will hear.

In the midst of uncertainty and fear, we know that God holds fast to His children. In Deuteronomy 31:6, we are reminded to “be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.” Let us continue standing with our family in Iraq, praying that they will know God’s nearness in the face of persecution.

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