The Middle East Reformed Fellowship (MERF) has for several years provided regular support for six congregations in Iraq – two in Badhdad (Arabic and Assyrian), and congregations in Mousel, Kirkuk,
Basra and Arbeil. This report relates largely to these fellowships.
The MERF Arabic broadcasting team have produced a special series of daily gospel broadcasts on Radio Monte Carlo. These went on air about twelve days before the beginning of the war.
The main subject of the series is ‘Kingdom of Jesus — a kingdom of truth, peace, justice and self-giving love’. They include testimonies, Bible readings, comments and brief exhortations to the listeners to cling to Christ.
The series also aims to point out that the Bible does not identify the Christian gospel with any earthly kingdom, national or political system.
One Shiite Muslim listener from Samawa, south of Baghdad, responded to the broadcast aired on March 17.
He says, ‘Thank you for letting our people know that you care … Hate and war is not of the Creator God … Your words give me hope that God will end wars and change the nature of people and the world when Issa (Jesus) returns … Thank you from the bottom of my heart’.
Sunday services continue to be held in each of the local Iraqi churches (at time of writing, 2 April).
Also, we have learned that the Iraqi Government provided additional police security for the protection of Christian church buildings as of Tuesday 18 March.
A member of the congregation in Baghdad was seriously injured when a missile exploded in a residential area and killed and injured scores of people.
Prior to the start of the war, the pastors committed themselves to stay in the country and urged the congregations to do the same.
They began to hold daily prayer meetings in different neighbourhoods of each town and urged people to meet in small Bible study groups in Baghdad, Mousel, Kirkuk and Basra.
As an expression of support for the Iraqi brethren at this difficult time, the Board of MERF agreed to use reserve funds to provide the Assembly of the churches in Iraq with emergency diaconal aid.
The Board also decided to seek further support through MERF’s different support committees. Those interested in helping their fellow believers in Iraq at this very critical time can do so through MERF.
MERF’s diaconal aid support has no staff or administrative overhead costs. The support goes directly and in full to the churches to distribute under their local oversight.
We ask that fervent and regular prayers be raised by all for these congregations and for all Iraqis identified as ‘Christian’ in the ancient Iraqi churches (Assyrians, Chaldeans, Nestorians, Armenians, etc.).
Pray that the war will not result in the loss of law and order in the country or the loss of the large measure of religious freedom provided by the present secular system.
Remember also the spiritual and physical well-being of the young believers converted in recent years, especially from among the Shiites in the southern region of Iraq.
We must all pray that the war will not be identified as a modern ‘Christian’ crusade.
Further information from MERF, P.O. Box 265, Hayes, Middlesex, UB3 3AU