Hope in Baghdad

August 18, 2003

Last week I promised a fresh evaluation of the Harry Potter phenomenon – but decided you’d be encouraged by the following story of hope. It comes from a YWAM leader in the Middle East who typed it while driving back across the desert from Baghdad with a Korean YWAM family who had spent the last three months in Sadir City. Formerly called Saddam City, this is the centre of Shia Islam in Baghdad, with four million people who have been systematically oppressed under Saddam’s regime. They were coordinating Korean medical and relief teams, and befriended the city’s religious and community leaders and plan to move back to Baghdad in November.

On the last day of the YWAM leader’s visit, he visited Georges (named changed). Georges has requested YWAM to run a discipleship course for his people, which will start next month. Georges was pastor of an underground church that had grown to over 100 people. One night in February this year, the secret police came and took him from his home and taken to the infamous Red Building – named from the colour of blood. Georges found himself crammed into a two metre square cell, in total darkness – with six other religious leaders: three Shiite and three Sunni moslems!

From the first day they asked him to tell them about Jesus, but he refused. Instead he told them about Adam and Eve, the next day about Noah, then Abraham etc. Finally after 10 days of laying foundations they were begging him to tell them about Jesus.

So the next day he told them the biblical story about Jesus. After he finished there was silence for the longest time. Finally some started asking questions, but not the usual religious argumentative questions, but genuine questions seeking to understand. The atmosphere of the cell changed. One man began asking Georges to pray for him every time he was taken away to be tortured. They even ended up sharing communion together.

Miraculously Georges was released a few days before the war. No one was ever released from the secret police building before. The only way out was in a coffin. At least one of the others was also released as he now comes to visit Georges.

The YWAM leader continued his report stating his excitement at the future opportunities opening up in Iraq. “It really is a new season in a new country. It seems the Brazilians and Koreans are taking up the challenge, but its important for all of us to play our part. If we wait for all to be quiet, it will be a long time before some parts of the world hear the gospel. I’m glad someone risked all and came to England to share the gospel with my forefathers at a time when England was a wild and dangerous place.
The Iraqis are revelling in a new found freedom, but there is still much pain and heartache in their lives. Pray for the full revelation of the freedom that Christ brings.”

Till next week,

Jeff Fountain

Till next week,

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