The Church under pressure
The Christian population in Iraq has shrunk by 87% from 1.5 million to just 200,000 since the start of the conflict in Iraq. Rev Andrew White, vicar of the Anglican Church in Baghdad, says that 1026 members of his congregation have been killed since Sadam Hussein was toppled, 58 in one day.
According to several Coptic organisations and the Egyptian Union for Human Rights about 100,000 Egyptian Christians have applied to emigrate, 10,000 after the Muslim Brotherhood came to power. Some senior figures suggest that more than 30,000 has left Egypt recently.
Christians have been fleeing Syria in the face of recent violence, something that started under Bashar al-Assad’s father. When Syria gained independence in 1945, Christians were 20% of the population, by 1980 this had dropped to 16.5%, 11% in 1990 and today Christians are estimated to be just 6% of the population.
At the same time, we see the emergence of the Church in some form in virtually every nation of the world. In some countries we prefer not to name publicly, small groups of believers are now beginning to meet together. While this may be small and fragile, God has been at work doing a new thing in the midst of difficult circumstances. History shows us that the church has grown in the midst of suffering. Read the book of Acts. Look at the movement of God building his Church in Iran.
Habakkuk says: Look at the nations and watch – and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.
However, when the people of God and his church in different places hurt and are under pressure it matters to the rest of the body. So we join in standing with the Church around the world to seek the Father with and for them, to stand in the gap and pray.