3/25/2021 (Voice of the Persecuted) You are invited to join us on Thursday, March 25, 2021 in a prayer conference call for the persecuted church.
IRAQ: Population 41.5 million, Christians: 175,000 thousand
Since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003, Christians and other religious minorities have been increasingly targeted by Islamist extremists. The violence has become genocidal. Hundreds of thousands have been forced to flee, elsewhere in Iraq or abroad. Many are still living in precarious conditions. For those who can return home, everything needs to be rebuilt.
Christians from a Muslim background often keep their faith secret, because of the pressure and threats they are likely to receive from extended family members, clan leaders and wider society. Christian converts risk losing inheritance rights or the right to marry – and they are not allowed to marry Christians, as the law still considers them Muslim.
Islamic extremists remain active in Iraq, attacking and kidnapping Christians. So-called Islamic State (IS) are notorious for their appalling use of women, particularly the sexual enslavement of women from religious minorities. While IS no longer have a stranglehold over the country, the legacy of their attitudes linger and many women are traumatized from their experiences. The government also discriminates against Christians in various contexts, from the workplace to check points. Blasphemy laws can also be used against those who try to spread the gospel.
After years of violence, an uncertain peace has come to Iraq – but 2020 saw recurrent violent protests and the instability in Iraq is a catalyst for the ongoing persecution of Christians. This has only got worse during the Covid-19 pandemic. Iraqi Christians take great comfort from their places of worship and the sense of community they get there, gathering despite persecution. When these closed because of the pandemic, Iraqi Christians found it hard. “The believers are very sad; they want to come to church,” says Father Poulos, a priest in Bashiqa. “But for now, we have to tell them to stay at home and follow the prayers through the livestream on the internet.” Discipleship and fellowship have gradually been moving online, including courses run by Open Doors partners, so that Christians can meet, learn and share despite restrictions.
Persecution faced in public and private life has not changed significantly, but the level of violence faced by Christians has increased sharply in the past year – which is largely the reason that Iraq has gone from no.15 to no.11 in the World Watch List. This is due to more reports of Christians being attacked or killed and churches being attacked.
Last year, CNN reported that when ISIS took the city of Mosul they “marked Christian houses with the Arabic equivalent of the letter “N” for the derogatory term Nazarene.” They told Christians that they had a choice: they could leave their home, convert to Islam, or die. Before ISIS captured Mosul, there were close to 35,000 Christians living there; but today there are only around 30.
The propaganda being pushed by ISIS portrays Christians as sinners who seek to destroy all Muslims. They encourage violence to spread their perverse interpretation of Islam. When you don’t have personal connections with those different than you, it is easier to be indoctrinated by those who preach hate. The stories Victor shared with me from their trip illustrate just what they are dealing with.
- Father God, thank You for Your love for all Iraqis. Please bring peace and stability to a country that has suffered cycles of violence for so long.
- Pray God would turn the hearts of Iraq’s leaders to Him. Pray that they will be given wisdom to lead their country with righteousness and mercy.
- Ask the Lord to put peace into the hearts of Christians—and those who persecute them.
- Pray to the Lord that He will equip believers to be the light of hope in their country.
- Pray to the Lord to hold His hand over women and girls to protect them from abduction and rape.
- Praise God for giving believers amazing opportunities to sharing the gospel. Pray for a holy thirst and hunger among the people of Iraq for God.
- Pray for special protection of Muslim background believers and that they can connect with other Christians and grow in faith.
- Pray for funding and security for the NGOs whowork through local partners to support Christians in Iraq through Bible distribution, discipleship training, emergency relief, micro loans and livelihood projects to build self-reliance.
- Pray that the Internet has powerful messages that resonate and convict Muslims as well as communications that guide and edify Christians.
- Pray for those who are responsible for doing violence and or killings Christians to be convicted with the fear of the Lord.
- Pray the Lord will enable Christians to forgive their persecutors.
- Pray to the Lord that His believers, carry hope that helps us with the certainty that tomorrow will be better, that Churches will be planted and that by the will of you Lord.
Again, we want to lift up persecuted witnesses to the Lord:
- Leah Sharibu, prisoner of Boko Haram since 2018, pray for her release.
- Alice Loksha Ngaddah, kidnapped February 2019. She is a mother of two, working as a nurse for UNICEF. Pray for her release.
- Pray pastor Wang Yi to be released from prison.
- Pray for Anita, a Christian convert facing a long prison term and hoping to live in a country where she can express her faith openly.
- For the release of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani from Iran, and his family as their Persecution continues. Pastor Nadarkhani is serving the second year of his six-year sentence, recently reduced from ten years.
Andy, Persecution Watch Prayer Call Moderator
Prayer Conference Call Details
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What is Persecution Watch?
Persecution Watch is a U.S. national prayer conference call ministry that prays specifically for the global Persecuted Church. For over a decade, Blaine Scogin led this national network of believers who faithfully pray for the persecuted and the global harvest for the Kingdom of God.
The group meets via a free call-in service every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday night at 9pm Eastern (please check your time zone). Blaine also served as Prayer Director for Voice of the Persecuted and our missions became one. The prayer mission of Persecution Watch is an important part of our own.
With the passing of Blaine into glory on December 26, 2019, Voice of the Persecuted is committed to continue the prayer conference call for the persecuted along with our dedicated prayer warrior team.
On occasion, persecuted brothers and sisters have been invited on the call to share the trials they’re facing. The team serves to encourage them by washing their feet in Spirit led prayer.
Time is often reserved for those on the call to ask questions. We believe this helps to gain a better understanding of the situation that persecuted Christians endure in their specific nations. Q&A also helps us to focus our prayers based on their current needs.
Persecution Watch also hosts callers who want to pray united from other nations. If your heart is perplexed by the sufferings of our persecuted brothers and sisters, you no longer need to pray alone. We welcome all who desire to pray for the persecuted church and consider it a joy to pray together with you.
If you’re new to the call and can’t find your voice, listen in and pray silently or on mute. We are grateful and thank the Lord for bringing us all together to pray in agreement for our persecuted family in Christ. We can all be prayer warriors on this call!
NOTE: Persecution Watch has a new email address for the prayer team and those who would like to receive urgent prayer requests, weekly call prayer points and notification of special prayer events and special guest speakers.
Please fill out the form below to be included in our new distribution list to receive this important information. We are grateful for your prayers and to the Lord for guiding us as we continue the Persecution Watch prayer call mission.
Note to Voice of the Persecuted (VOP) readers: The Persecution Watch prayer team is also the prayer team of Voice of the Persecuted. SIGN UP today.