Iraq

PRAYER POINTS

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• Pray for evil and terror to be overcome by the power and love of Christ and His people.

 

• Pray for the Gospel message to break through hearts hardened by longstanding divisions and intense rivalries.

 

• Pray for believers to courageously stand firm in their faith despite persecution and terror.

 

 

SUMMARY

Known in the ancient world as Mesopotamia, present day Iraq in the Middle East was considered one of the cradles of human civilization and a world center of its time.  In the Bible’s Old Testament, we read of Iraq’s Tigris and Euphrates Rivers flowing from the Garden of Eden and Abram (Abraham) leaving its city of Ur.  We further read of the Assyrians, Babylonians, and Medo-Persians who reigned in the region we know as Iraq.  Today those same rivers and the land they feed are called the Fertile Crescent and contrast with the mountains in the north and the remaining areas that are desert. Bordered by the countries of Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iran, Iraq has 58 km (36 miles) of coastline on the Persian Gulf.  This oil rich, predominantly Muslim country is in transition politically, economically, and socially.

 

Iraq’s 1980-88 war with Iran, the Gulf War of 1991, and the brutal dictatorship of Saddam Hussein, who ruled from 1979 until his removal in 2003, greatly strained the country’s oil based economy and the national psyche. Hussein’s removal necessitated the establishment of a new government, made difficult by political clashes among the Shi’a majority, the formerly dominant Sunni minority, and the Kurds of northern Iraq.  A constitution was created in 2005 guaranteeing basic rights, and free elections were held.  International military forces left in place to mentor and train Iraqi security forces and help the transition to autonomy have now departed, leaving the Iraqi government in control of rebuilding the national infrastructure, addressing the problems of corruption, unemployment, and poverty, and implementing economic reforms.

 

While Saddam Hussein’s regime tolerated Christians, the new Iraqi government is more Islamic oriented.  The constitution does not deny freedom of religion, but makes it difficult for any religion other than Islam to exist.  Many churches in Iraq’s capital of Baghdad are closed, and persecution and harassment have caused many Christians to flee the country or relocate to northern Iraq. This has reduced the number of Christians to one half of what it was in the 1990’s.  Christians are more tolerated in the Kurdish Autonomous Region of northern Iraq, and the number of Kurdish believers is growing, even allowing for a local Christian radio station.  Satellite TV and radio are making a difference as they reach those who cannot be evangelized in person, as is the witness of those who have encountered Christ through dreams and visions.

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Source: kurdish christian worship song; kurdishpraise

QUICK FACTS

Continent: Asia

Capital City: Baghdad

Government: Parliamentary Democracy

Population: 28,945,657

Major People Groups: 70% Arabs, 19% Kurds, 6% Turks

Religion: 96% Muslim, 3% Other, 1% Christian

Language: Arabic/Kurdish

GDP Per Capita: $2,900

Literacy Rate: 74.1%

UNREACHED: 61.8%

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