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Barnabas Fund Calls for Prayer for Iraqi Christians

by Maria Mackay

Iraq/Islam (for the full story, go to Christianity Today) The Barnabas Fund has appealed to Christians to pray for their brothers and sisters in Iraq in the face of severe persecution and dwindling numbers.

As many as one million Christians are believed to have left troubled Iraq since 1990, when they first began to experience difficulties because of their Christian faith amid the first Gulf War.

The ongoing conflict and civil unrest have added to their woes and with much of the country still in chaos, Iraq’s tiny Christian minority is now facing a campaign by Islamic extremists to see them out of the country completely.

The 2,000-year-old church in Iraq faces extinction at the hands of Islamic extremists. Many of the militants have made clear that they seek to cleanse their country of Christians and Christianity. They tell the Christians, ‘Convert to Islam, leave or die.'”

According to Barnabas, the threats are having the desired effect: “The militants are well on the way to succeeding in their aim, at least in the south and central areas, as Christians flee the restrictions, threats and violence imposed on them.”

While Christians now account for only around three per cent of Iraq’s population (around 600,000), they account for nearly half of all refugees fleeing the country, according to estimates by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

The charity warned that many of the refugees are struggling to find accommodation, food and other basic needs in the neighbouring countries where they have sought refuge, namely Syria and Jordan.

Other Christians who have decided to remain and brave the situation in Iraq have tried to find relative safety in the northern Kurdish areas. Barnabas said, however, that they have no means to support themselves there.

The aid being shipped to Iraq through Barnabas Fund is proving to be a source of immense comfort for church leaders in the country.

Archbishop Eustathius Matta Roham, of the Syrian Orthodox Archdiocese of Jazirah and Euphrates, said, “Barnabas Fund has demonstrated great care for the poor and needy, especially for the Iraqi people who now struggle as refugees in Syria and surrounding countries.

The work that the Barnabas Fund has begun here has paved the way for much needed support from other NGOs.

Barnabas has shown itself to be peerless in the degree of its support towards the Iraqi people in Syria. The Barnabas Fund is now a name that the Iraqi people in Syria are uttering in their prayers of thanksgiving.”

The charity is appealing for prayer for Christians in Iraq, and for Christians to spread the word about their plight by handing out Barnabas Fund info leaflets with commendations by Dr John Stott and Baroness Cox