PRAYER POINTS

  • Pray that Al Qaeda in Iraq and affiliated terrorist organizations will be thrown into confusion, and will not be able to regroup, recruit, or have the capacity to be disruptive. Pray that the demonic forces that are using the terrorists like puppets will be toppled, and that the people will be set free to worship the Lord. Pray that their leaders will experience conversion to Christianity. (1 Timothy 2:1–4)
     
  • Pray for religious tolerance. Pray especially against the work of extremists who should be labeled terrorists and dealt with by governmental authorities accordingly. (Proverbs 11:21)
     
  • Current Iraqi law actually allows Christians to worship freely. Unlike many Muslim countries, Christian holidays and festivities, such as Christmas, are celebrated in Iraq. Pray that a new government will not only maintain these things, but also enforce such freedoms.
     
  • There is a small but growing number of Kurdish Christians in the north of Iraq. Some have been martyred for following Jesus. Pray that these Christians would remain strong and united.
     
  • Pray for the immediate and ongoing protection of Iraqi Christians.

 

Find ministries and organizations working in Iraq at Joshua Project | Iraq.

 

 

FACTS
Population:  33,430,000
Total People Groups: 35
Unreached People Groups:23
Region: Middle East/North Africa
Official National Language: Arabic (Standard)
Secondary National Language: Kurdish (Central)
Religions: Islam 94.3%, Christianity 3.5%, Other 1.4%, Non-Religious 0.7%
Persecution Ranking: 9
Percentage of People in Poverty:  Not Ranked

LOCATION
The Republic of Iraq, usually known as Iraq, is a country in the Middle East spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert. It shares borders with Kuwait and Saudi Arabia to the south, Jordan to the west, Syria to the northwest, Turkey to the north, and Iran to the east. It has a very narrow section of coastline at Umm Qasr on the Persian Gulf. There are two major flowing rivers: the Tigris and the Euphrates. These provide Iraq with agriculturally capable land and contrast with the desert landscape that covers most of the Middle East. Iraq is comparable in size to the U.S. state of California. The capital city, Baghdad, is in the center-east. Iraq's rich history dates back to ancient Mesopotamia.

RELIGION
Iraq is comprised of 96.9% Muslims and only 1.6% of the population is Christians.

CHALLENGES FOR CHRISTIANS
Iraq is ranked No. 21 among nations that are the worst persecutors of Christians based on Open Doors 2007 “World Watch List.” Although the constitution recognizes Islam as the official religion and states that no law may be enacted that contradicts the established provisions of Islam, it also guarantees freedom of thought, conscience and religious belief and practice.

There have been reports of Islamic extremists kidnapping Christians, including at least nine priests, for ransom. On July 17, 2006, a Chaldean priest was kidnapped in Baghdad and released after two days. On August 15, 2006, a Chaldean priest was kidnapped in Baghdad. He was reportedly tortured and released after a month. On September 16, 2006, a Chaldean priest was kidnapped in Baghdad and released two days later. On October 11, 2006, Assyrian priest Father Paulos Iskender was kidnapped and beheaded in Mosul one week later. He was reportedly targeted in retaliation for statements that the Pope Benedict XVI made in September 2006. On November 19, 2006, a Chaldean priest was kidnapped in Baghdad. He was released after nine days. On November 26, 2006, Protestant clergyman Elder Munthir Al-Saqa from the National Presbyterian Church in Mosul was abducted after leading a Sunday Service at his church that day. He was found dead on November 29. The kidnappers reportedly demanded $1 million in ransom from ElderMunthir's family using his mobile telephone. On December 4, 2006, a Chaldean priest was kidnapped in Baghdad and released after six days. On May 19, 2007, a Chaldean priest was kidnapped in Baghdad and freed after two days. On June 6, 2007, Chaldean priest Hani Abdel Ahad and five other Christians were kidnapped in Baghdad. The five Christians were released after a day, while Father Hani was released in good condition on June 17, 2007. The Chaldean Church confirmed that the kidnappers demanded ransom but declined to comment on the amount. Christian leaders inside and outside of the country reported that members of their Baghdad community, especially in the district of Dora, received threat letters demanding that Christians leave or be killed.


Sources: 24-7 Prayer, Operation World, Wikipedia, Country Reports on Terrorism 2007, International Religious Freedom Report 2007, Open Doors