An Arab pastor serving in a difficult context (and who has suffered much for his faith) recently spoke to our team. His passionate words gripped our hearts and challenged us to once again lay down our lives in surrender. He spoke a truth that we know in our heads but that is so often very hard to live out. He said, “God hasn’t called us to run away from darkness but to penetrate it.”
Heeding that word, one of our team members did a “month out” of ministry in Baghdad. He worked with a local church and saw God’s hand move in miraculous ways, including see a mother of his new friend set free from demonic curses and give her life to Christ. He expressed a sense of urgency, reporting back to us the openness Iraqis have to the gospel right now.
Our colleague was living in the same district of Baghdad where a suicide bomber detonated a truck of explosives in a busy shopping center on July 3, snuffing out the lives of over 300 people in the worst bombing Iraq has seen in years. This is what he shared a few days later:
“Today I went to the site of the explosion. I went with some new Iraqi friends; I went so that I could grieve alongside these new brothers. This is a hard, hard time for this city as people have lost the ones they love. My heart is broken for the lives that should continue. I see the pictures of the young men who died and realize how short life really is.
My heart isn’t filled with fear, but with anguish—anguish knowing that most, if not all, of those that died didn’t believe in the saving grace and hope of Jesus Christ. It burdens me to think that now they will spend eternity away from the presence of God.
As the church is called to respond and stand with those that are hurting, I am asking that you stand with Iraq. Would you pray that the Lord would comfort those who are hurting and He would reveal His love to those that are in pain? Pray that the Light of the World would pierce through the darkness and that the Lord would use this horrible situation to bring many people to Himself. To God be the glory!”
As followers of Jesus, we continue to wrestle daily with the reality of living out the words of Jesus, to die to ourselves and take up our crosses and follow Him despite our sinful natures that pull at us to put comfort, safety, security, and “me” above all else. As we keep our eyes focused on Jesus with His Word as our foundation, we are compelled that God is calling His church to go to the hardest, darkest places to bring His light to the millions who have not embraced the gospel. We must be obedient.
Pray that Jesus would unite the body of Christ. It is the desire of Jesus that His followers are one. Please pray that God would unite the body of Christ. Pray that Christians from around the world would work together to reach the unreached in Iraq and that Iraqi Muslims would be joined to the body of Christ (John 17:20–23).
Pray for peace. Pray that Iraqis would experience peace not only in their nation but also deeply in their hearts. Pray for the peace that results when men and women are reconciled with God (John 14:27). Pray for men and women of peace among the Muslims of Iraq (Luke 10:6).