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http://www.startribune.com/stories/191/5571828.html

In Iraq , Grace Takes Amazing Hold

(Star Tribune) – Pastor Ghassan Thomas was overjoyed on April 9, 2003, when coalition forces toppled Saddam Hussein. For four years, in the face of relentless persecution, he had operated an underground Christian church of about 50 members in the heart of Baghdad . Saddam’s police had tortured him repeatedly, Thomas says — beating him, suspending him from a ceiling fan and attaching electrodes to his tongue. Though Saddam’s fall brought an end to official persecution, it also brought challenges. The living quarters where Thomas’ fledgling flock had worshipped couldn’t accommodate his swelling congregation, and he lacked resources to address their daunting needs.

As his frustration mounted, Thomas says, “I prayed to God for a sister church to stand with me and help me.” The answer to Thomas’ prayers came from half a world away: Eden Prairie , Minn. In December 2003 in Jordan , an acquaintance introduced Thomas to Dave Gibson, pastor of missions and outreach at Eden Prairie ‘s evangelical Grace Church. “I was profoundly moved when Ghassan told me about his congregation’s plight and their courage,” says Gibson. “I knew we had to come alongside and help.” …[Go To Full Story]