Middle East: Finding Christ in Conflict

Terrified by the turmoil in Iraq, Muslims turn to Christ for His perfect peace

As one of his last acts before his defeat in 2003, Saddam Hussein released thousands of notorious criminals from prisons throughout Iraq. Entire communities continue to live in fear. Democracy is the goal, but anarchy is the current reality.

Kidnapping has reached epidemic proportions. Law officers in Baghdad are of little help to families attempting to negotiate with abductors. They estimate that the city experiences 15,000 kidnappings per year. Those are just the ones that are reported.

Iraqi insurgents, attempting to purge their soil of foreign occupation forces, are believed to be using the ransom money from kidnappings to fund their activities. The late Abu Musab al-Zarqawi´s Iraqi terrorist organization made it their goal to kill all those involved in drafting Iraq´s new constitution.

Christians are especially targeted, as terrorists assume they support the U.S. military in Iraq. Numbers in church attendance throughout the country have dropped because of the fear of attacks and kidnappings.

Many Iraqis, fearing for their lives, have fled the country. Large groups of Iraqi refugees are now living primarily in Iran, Jordan and Turkey. A substantial number of Christians are included in the emigration population.

The Middle East is one of the least evangelized regions of the world. Native ministry leaders, who understand the delicate procedure of covert evangelism in Arab countries, are crucial to reaching these nations.

In 1999 a Christian Aid-supported ministry began by starting underground churches for Iraqi refugees in Jordan.

In 2001, the ministry began an outreach program for Muslim Iraqi refugees by offering free English classes. During the first year, 100 Muslim families dedicated their lives to Christ. From those 100 families, 13 men and women stepped forward to join the ministry. After three months of Bible training they began evangelizing Baghdad. Through door-to-door evangelism, the group distributed 120,000 Bibles in two years.

In addition to distributing Bibles, the ministry has had great success in planting small house churches. Muslims, who hear the gospel for the first time, ask permission to bring their families, friends and neighbors to the churches. Staff members are working toward the goal of planting at least one house church in every major city of Iraq.