The Threat to Christians in Iraq

Article excerpt

A Christian Science perspective.

Christianity has deep roots in Iraq. In fact, many churches there trace their history back to the early days of Christianity. Since the war began in 2003, however, attacks on Christians have increased, and while other minority groups are also affected, there is some feeling that Christians are being targeted specifically. An Al Qaeda-linked group, the "Islamic State of Iraq," has claimed responsibility for an Oct. 31 massacre during a church service. More than 50 people were killed, including two priests, and many others were wounded. And there have been new, but not as severe, attacks since.

These conditions have given Christians a new incentive to flee, even though this may mean leaving behind their careers, homes, and communities. Prior to 2003, there were about 1 million Christians, but since then at least half have left. Some have moved elsewhere in Iraq, and others have left the country entirely.

The Bible's accounts of humanity's spiritual journey include many examples of people who left their home countries or areas for various reasons and had to give up all they had in the process. At one point, even after they had seen God's power protecting them from the Egyptians, the Israelites said they would rather be back in Egypt "when we did eat bread to the full," rather than be in the wilderness where they would die of hunger (Ex. 16:3).

They discovered, however, that God had no intention of letting them starve. When Moses prayed to God for help, the people found a supply of manna for the morning and quails in the evening. Their needs were met.

Our prayers for the persecuted Iraqi Christians can dwell on God's goodness and on His care for them - just as He met the needs of the Israelites. Monitor founder Mary Baker Eddy wrote a lovely poem called " 'Feed My Sheep'," which speaks of the Christ, the spiritual message of God's love for His sons and daughters, and how it will lead everyone to the good they need. It includes these lines:

So, when day grows dark and cold,Tear or triumph harms,Lead Thy lambkins to the fold,Take them in Thine arms;Feed the hungry, heal the heart,Till the morning's beam;White as wool, ere they depart,Shepherd, wash them clean. …