DAY OF PRAYER FOR IRAQ 23 August 2014 - across Australia
Christians in Iraq are desperately suffering.
In the past few weeks alone, tens of thousands of Christians have been displaced. Some Christians, including children – unwilling or unable to leave cities and towns taken over by IS (Islamic State, formally known as ISIS) militants – have paid the ultimate price.
The stories of the destruction of Iraqi monuments and culture are huge. Major cities, like Mosul and Iraq’s largest Christian city, Qaraqosh, have been emptied of Christians and other minorities, including moderate Muslims. For the first time in more than 1600 years, there have been no Sunday church services in Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul – until recently home to thousands of Christians, all of whom fled in mid-July when they were told to convert to Islam, pay an ongoing tax or face death. Crosses have been taken down from churches, religious texts and manuscripts have been burned and some churches have been converted to headquarters for militants or, in at least one case, a barn for keeping animals.
IS militants stripped families of everything at checkpoints on their way out of the cities – Canon Andrew White of St George’s Church, the only Anglican church in Baghdad, tells of meeting a Christian woman in Qaraqosh whose finger had been cut off because she was unable to remove her wedding ring. Another father spoke of everything being taken from his family – right down to the 22 cents in pocket money carried by his young son.
In Iraq today, thousands of Christians now own nothing but the clothes on their backs. Open Doors is working with local churches in Iraq, Syria and other nations in the region to provide emergency relief packages, pastoral care and other practical help. But one of the most vital ways Christians in countries like Australia can support those in Iraq is through prayer.
On 23 August, Open Doors Australia is inviting church and prayer groups and individuals to join in a Day of Prayer for Iraq. Prayer is of vital importance to church leaders and all Christians of Iraq and the Middle East. Thousands of Christians around Australia have already committed to attending an event in their church and other venues – and many more are encouraged to take part.
Open Doors Australia staff are available for interview about the current crisis in Iraq and how Australians can become involved in the Day of Prayer for Iraq on 23 August.
Open Doors has also created a new blog and is joining in the WeareN campaign with ن symbol t-shirts now available. For more information on this, and the Day of Prayer for Iraq on 23 August, please visit opendoors.org.au or the Open Doors Australia Facebook page. For interviews, please contact Alicia at Open Doors on 02 9451 2999 or firstname.lastname@example.org