During the 40 days of Lent I’m committed to praying each day for Christians in the 40 countries where the cost of being a follower of Christ is highest. I invite you to do the same. The information on the prayer needs of each country comes from a combination of Open Doors, Barnabas Fund and Operation World.
Today we are Praying for Iraq
In a population of almost 31 Million about 300,000 are Christians, they suffer serious hardship and persecution. Violence against Christians increased in 2010, with large numbers of believers killed and injured. There were a number of attacks on Christians in Mosul in the run-up to March’s elections, leading to an exodus of Christians to villages in the Nineveh plains. Attacks on church buildings and Christian institutions increased in the second half of the year. In October 2010, at least 58 Christians were killed and many were injured in a bomb attack on a church in Baghdad.
Answer to Prayer
The establishment of a representative government, consolidation of stability, reduction of sectarian violence and the end of a brutal dictatorship responsible for the deaths of millions are points for praise. Growing pains and strife are inevitable, but there is also hope for the emergence of a stable, self-governed Iraq. Reforms in politics, the economy, education, healthcare and welfare offer signs of progress.
Challenge for Prayer
Iraq’s future remains uncertain. Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship was removed, but a host of problems still plagues the country.
a) The establishment of a national government that fairly balances the conflicting expectations of the various religious and ethnic communities, and provides an environment that promotes accountability to the people, economic growth and religious freedom. Without these, the future is bleak. Anarchy, civil war, fragmentation of the country and further suffering for the people – especially Christians – could follow. Pray therefore for anointed national leaders who can act with wisdom, courage and integrity.
b) Healing after decades of suffering. Nearly every person bears some scars of traumatic experiences – from Hussein’s cruelty, from the US-led invasions or from the sectarian violence that has followed. Only the gospel can provide a full solution; pray that this may be freely proclaimed.
c) The elimination of corruption. Iraq is ranked as one of the world’s most corrupt nations. This has significantly held back the nation from repairing damage and achieving development.
d) The suffering the Iraqi people have endured. The number of lives lost as a result of invasions, insurgencies and deprivation may be as high as 600,000, with nearly two million people displaced. More than half of the population live in poverty.
e) The Christian community is less than a third of what it was in 1990. Many Christians have been forced to flee the country due to threats of violence. Pray for those who remain; that the Lord will meet their needs, protect them and give them hope for the future.