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Iraq

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Barnabas provides medical care to
Christians in Iraq

Following the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, there was a huge surge in anti-Christian threats, kidnappings and murders, and the violence has continued ever since. Many of the attacks have been centred on church buildings and church leaders, a clear message to the Christians that they are being persecuted because of their faith. Numerous Christians have received messages telling them to convert to Islam, leave or be killed.

In July 2013, the body of a Christian man who had been kidnapped six weeks earlier was found inside his truck. Salem Dawood Coca’s vehicle was booby-trapped with explosives; it is thought his captors tried to force him to carry out a suicide bombing but he had refused. The kidnappers had contacted Salem’s family, calling him a “Christian infidel”.

Also in 2013, a church in Baghdad was fired at by masked men who seriously wounded two security guards; Christian-owned businesses in the area had been the target of bombings the previous day.

As well as violent attacks, Christians also suffer significant discrimination, marginalisation and injustice.

Hundreds of thousands of believers have fled their homes, reducing the Christian population to a quarter of the size it was in 1990. Many took refuge in Syria or Lebanon, while others are internally displaced in the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan, which once provided relative peace and stability. But Iraqi Christian refugees are no longer safe in Syria, as anti-Christian violence threatens all Christians in the country, while Iraqi Kurdistan is now also seeing escalating tensions; Christians also struggle to find work to support themselves there. Iraq’s Christians have few safe havens left.

Some Muslims have expressed support for Christians. In October 2013, on the third anniversary of a deadly anti-Christian attack, Muslims held a vigil at the targeted church and urged their beleaguered Christian compatriots not to flee Iraq.

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    • In an earlier incident in Saisomboon village, three teenage Christian girls were disqualified from taking their final school examinations because of their faith. The village chief said that in following Christianity, Noi (15), Net (15) and Nut (14) had forfeited their right to education. Five families from the village have now converted to Christianity. A spokesman for Human Rights Watch for Lao Religious Freedom expressed the view that the authorities were trying to find every possible way “to stop the spread of Christian religious freedom in the area”. Pray that the girls will be allowed to complete their education and that opposition to the Christians in the village will cease. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed 21 hours ago

    • Five Christians have been charged with murder in Laos after a sick woman sought prayer at her local church, converted to Christianity and later died. Mrs Chan, from Saisomboon village in Savannakhet province, had been ill for two years when she approached the church. Her health improved for a short time, and she and her eight grown-up children came to faith in Christ. The sons and daughters wanted a Christian burial ceremony, but the authorities forbade this unless they renounced their faith, which they refused to do. When Christians in the area protested, five were arrested and subsequently charged with Mrs Chan’s murder. Pray that the God of justice will have compassion on His people (Isaiah 30:18) and ensure their acquittal from this false accusation. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Fri, Aug 2014 00:00

    • A Christian from Loynam village in the Savannakhet province of Laos was arrested on the morning of 29 May and tied to a post before being imprisoned. Two weeks earlier, police and village security officers had gone to Mr Sort’s home and threatened him with eviction from the village and confiscation of all his property if he did not give up his faith. He refused, despite repeated attempts to coerce him. The village chief then seized around £300 of Mr Sort’s money. Give thanks that our brother, who has been a Christian for less than two years, has stood firm in his faith, and ask the Lord to renew his courage and strength (1 Corinthians 16:13). Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Thu, Aug 2014 00:00

    • Iraqi Christians are losing even previously safe havens under the relentless assault of ISIS. On 25 June, the militant group attacked the historic Christian town of Qaraqosh, near Mosul, driving its mainly Christian population of around 40,000 to flee. Many Christians from Mosul had gone there after the fall of their own city earlier in the month. Kurdish forces were able to repel ISIS from the town, allowing some people to return to their homes for the time being, but their security remains extremely precarious. Pray that the ISIS advance will be stopped and that the Iraqi security forces will be able to regain the captured territory. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Wed, Aug 2014 00:00

    • Heavenly Father, we cry out to You for the Christians left in Mosul, mostly elderly and sick, as they now face the threat of sharia penalties introduced by ISIS: the amputation of limbs for thieves, crucifixion for criminals and the death penalty for apostasy. We pray that You will protect them from the brutality of the militants. We pray for peace and healing for those who have already been threatened or attacked, and for the safe return of those who have been kidnapped. We pray too for those struggling to pay the humiliating jizya tax that the militants have imposed. We ask that the attempt to restore a united Islamic state under one ruler in the cross-border territory controlled by ISIS will come to nothing. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Tue, Aug 2014 00:00

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