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Iraq

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Barnabas provides medical care to
Christians in Iraq

Following the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, there was a huge surge in anti-Christian threats, kidnappings and murders, and the violence has continued ever since. Many of the attacks have been centred on church buildings and church leaders, a clear message to the Christians that they are being persecuted because of their faith. Numerous Christians have received messages telling them to convert to Islam, leave or be killed.

In July 2013, the body of a Christian man who had been kidnapped six weeks earlier was found inside his truck. Salem Dawood Coca’s vehicle was booby-trapped with explosives; it is thought his captors tried to force him to carry out a suicide bombing but he had refused. The kidnappers had contacted Salem’s family, calling him a “Christian infidel”.

Also in 2013, a church in Baghdad was fired at by masked men who seriously wounded two security guards; Christian-owned businesses in the area had been the target of bombings the previous day.

As well as violent attacks, Christians also suffer significant discrimination, marginalisation and injustice.

Hundreds of thousands of believers have fled their homes, reducing the Christian population to a quarter of the size it was in 1990. Many took refuge in Syria or Lebanon, while others are internally displaced in the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan, which once provided relative peace and stability. But Iraqi Christian refugees are no longer safe in Syria, as anti-Christian violence threatens all Christians in the country, while Iraqi Kurdistan is now also seeing escalating tensions; Christians also struggle to find work to support themselves there. Iraq’s Christians have few safe havens left.

Some Muslims have expressed support for Christians. In October 2013, on the third anniversary of a deadly anti-Christian attack, Muslims held a vigil at the targeted church and urged their beleaguered Christian compatriots not to flee Iraq.

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    • “The cathedral in Damaturu now has only about 40 members instead of 450 members. The church in Potiskum now has only about 15 members instead of 500 members… the southern part of [Yobe state] is still very dangerous and most of the churches here have closed down.” A senior church leader in Nigeria wrote to Barnabas Aid in August about the impact on the Church of Boko Haram’s violence. Nevertheless Christians were still holding worship services every Sunday, discipling the young people and even commissioning pastors. Praise God for such perseverance, and pray that a Christian presence and witness may remain in north-east Nigeria. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed 16 hours ago

    • Heavenly Father, we pray to You for our Christian brothers and sisters in north-eastern Nigeria, who are so vulnerable in the face of attacks by Boko Haram militants. We remember especially those who used to live in Madagali, in Adamawa state, until their town was seized by Boko Haram two months ago. We think of those who were betrayed into the hands of Boko Haram by their neighbours pointing out Christian homes or places where Christians had hidden. We bring before You those who saw their menfolk beheaded, and women forcibly converted to Islam. We cry out to You to intervene and bring an end to the murderous attacks by Boko Haram. We pray for all the thousands of Nigerian Christians who have suffered in similar attacks that they will not lose hope or faith in You, but will know Your peace which passes understanding. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Mon, Oct 2014 00:00

    • Pray for a pastor in the Kilimanjaro region of Tanzania whose home was attacked on 17 May; two of his children were injured. When he went to report the incident to the police, he was falsely accused of raping a young woman who had left Islam to follow Christ. The pastor had taken her into his home, along with four other converts, after she was thrown out by her family; it was they who made the accusation against him. He has faced much opposition because of his fruitful outreach to Muslims, and several failed attempts have been made to frame him with false accusations. Pray that the sovereign Lord will help him and that he will not be disgraced (Isaiah 50:7-9). Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sun, Oct 2014 00:00

    • A church on Mafia Island, part of the Zanzibar archipelago, was attacked on 9 May by around 80 young Muslim men armed with arrows and knives. The church members, who are mainly converts from Islam, had gathered for their weekly overnight prayer session when the attackers appeared, shouting “death to ritad’i” (those who leave Islam). They set fi re to the church, leaving the interior in ruins, and then went in search of the pastor, but he was not at home. The incident followed a bomb blast at another church in Mwanza in mainland Tanzania on 5 May, in which a worker at the church rest house was critically injured. Pray that the authorities will effectively address the increasing incidence of attacks against churches. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sat, Oct 2014 00:00

    • Cry out to the Lord for the many Christian victims of kidnapping by Boko Haram in Nigeria. Remember especially the more than two hundred teenage girls who were taken from the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, Borno state, on the night of 14 April. A video released in May showed eight of the girls speaking about their ordeal; they plead for their release, and one says, “I never expected to suffer like this in my life.” It is believed that they have been divided into at least four groups and that most of them are being held in camps outside Nigeria. They are hungry, while some are unwell and need medical attention. Pray for their safe release and for that of other kidnapped Christians. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Fri, Oct 2014 00:00

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