The Problem

100,000 million Christians face persecution simply for following Jesus 
The Problem


Leader: President Fuad Masum
Population: 39 million (258,000 Christians)
Main Religion: Islam
Government: Parliamentary democracy
Source of persecution: Islamic extremism
World Watch List Rank: 8

“Of course I desire to go back to my church, the place I grew up in. But, if I’m called to serve in the desert, I can still serve there. From sand I can make a church…”
Martin, a trainee church leader, who fled his town with many others as IS approached. His church is now a large tent that also acts as a school and community centre.

The basics

Iraq was once home to one of the largest Christian communities in the Middle East; today, the church in Iraq is in danger of disappearing completely. Since 2015 the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS) has forced thousands of Christians to flee their homes. IS are now largely driven back from most areas, and many Christians are beginning to return home, though the homes they left behind are largely in need of repair and rebuilding. Even in areas of Iraq that aren’t controlled by IS, Sharia is the basis of the law, and Muslims are forbidden from leaving Islam. Converts from Islamic backgrounds risk harassment or discrimination at check-points, universities, work places and government buildings; they may also lose jobs, inheritance rights, or the ability to marry.

The facts

  • In the 90s there were 1.2 million Christians in Iraq. Now the number is less than 300,000.
  • Wars, increasing persecution of Christians, and the rise of extremism are the reasons many have fled.
  • In 2014 the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS), an extremist Islamic militia, took control of large parts of Iraq. They forced Christians out of cities like Mosul, giving the ultimatum; convert, pay a high tax, leave or die. In those IS controlled parts of the country, Christianity was outlawed and churches were destroyed, or used for other purposes.
  • There is a massive need to rebuild many towns and cities now the fighting is decreasing.
  • The fighting in Iraq means around 2.8 million people have fled home and are classified as internally displaced people. That is one tenth of the population. Millions more have fled the country.

Where is it?

Pray this

Father God, even through war and struggle, you are King. Bring Your Kingdom to Iraq. Bring peace and justice where there is war and wrongdoing. Be with those Christians In Iraq that have fled home due to terror. Supply their physical needs. Strengthen their love of You. Raise passion and love. Help them forgive. Bring an end to pain, trauma and fighting. Rebuild Your church in Iraq with new vision and influence. Bring many to You. Help them keep going. Amen.

Other things to pray for…

  • Thank God for Open Doors partners and local churches in Iraq who are supporting over 15,000 displaced Christian families with emergency relief. Ask for strength and provision for these refugees and those who serve them
  • For courage for Muslim background believers to keep following Jesus, despite the pressure to return to Islam
  • Many Christians have been abducted, attacked or sexually assaulted by IS militants. Ask God to protect Christians from attacks, and to change the hearts of IS members
  • Open Doors local partners have been supporting thousands of displaced families – pray for wisdom to know how best to support those who wish to return to their villages if and when it is safe to do so
  • A few Christians live secretly in IS held areas – pray for their safety.


Iraq: Displaced

Video blog part 1

Video blog part 3

Video blog part 5

Pray for us, help us

Video blog part 2

Video blog part 4


Listen to Rev Hammo from Iraq

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What’s it like: Faiez’s story

The good news: How we’re helping

Open Doors has been working with local partners and churches in Iraq for over 20 years to support the church through:

  • Providing trauma training and biblical training for church leaders and Muslim-background believers
  • Crisis relief – Open Doors partners are currently providing around 15,000 families with relief aid
  • Socio-economic development projects such as microloans for displaced people
  • Distributing Bibles and Christian literature and supporting Kurdish translations

Do something…

Show our Iraq and Syria appeal video PowerPoint slides and host a prayer meeting in your church…

Latest news and articles on Iraq…

Click the Iraq tag below for a list of the latest articles and news on Iraq…

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