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Iraq: Gracious to all

After nearly 18 months of news reports on Iraq, we know the situation is insanely dangerous. But normal Christians continue to live and go about their lives in relatively safe places, like the capital city, Baghdad. Despite recent kidnappings and murders, the church still exists. We spoke to Pastor Farouk Hammo, a leader of a church in Baghdad about the situation facing the church and how normal people are coping in the midst of a war and destruction.

How are the members of your church in Baghdad?

Despite all the violence taking place, we try to live our lives as normal. We go to work, pick up the kids from school, and visit each other. Every evening we have activities at the church and most of our members are active in at least one of our ministries.

It doesn’t matter if they are a Christians like us our not. God asked us to be gracious to all.

Apart from the images of bomb attacks you might see on television, we also see how full the restaurants are in the evenings. Apart from what you might hear about conflict, we also experience the friendliness of the people on the street. War, unfortunately, has become normal to Baghdadis. We experience a bomb attack, bury the bodies, and continue. It’s not that it doesn’t affect us, but all these years of war have created a hard skin.

How do you deal with this ‘hard skin’ in church?

It’s not easy. Because of all these years of war you could say that even the children are born with anxiety on their hard disk. Fortunately, no one in our church has died due to the war in the past five years, but everyone has his or her story. Many of us have experienced loss. Loss of family members or loss of wealth.

We experience discrimination and a lack of peace. People feel rejection, resentment, and bitterness. There is illness because of trauma and there is spiritual bondage as well. We try to care for the inner healing that our people need. We do a lot of counselling and train our youth workers, for instance. I can’t say if that’s enough, but we do what we can and we pray for what we can’t.

How did the recent crisis with the self-proclaimed Islamic State affect the people in Baghdad?

It was a wake-up call. As Christians, we needed to stand firmly in our identity. Millions have lost everything, but some have found Christ. For us as a church, the influx of internally displaced people has given us the opportunity to ‘practice Christianity’ as I call it, to help all who need it; it doesn’t matter if they are a Christians like us our not. God asked us to be gracious to all.

How does God play a role in your lives these days?

God is in everything for us. He leads us and sends the right people our way. He gives us peace and happiness despite the situation. Within our church, we experience that He gives people inner healing and releases them from bondage. Really, we are nothing without Him; hope is in Him alone.

What message do you want to share with the Christians around the world?

In Europe, a lot of Muslims are entering now as refugees. This is a golden opportunity for evangelism… We need to stand together in Christ and pray together. That’s how we can change the world.

Pray now…

  • For protection and strength for Farouk and other church leaders
  • For continuing provision for the thousands of displaced families in Iraq
  • For a safe and peaceful future for the church in the Middle East.


How you can help…

We’ve put together a bunch of simple things you can do to help speak up and act on behalf of Christian’s in Iraq and Syria.

We support people who are beaten, tortured,
imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.