The news media doesn't cover it, but the Christian church in Iraq is struggling.
In the aftermath of the war, Christians in Basra, Baghdad and other parts of the country say they are beginning to suffer harassment, threats, intimidation and violence from conservative Shiite Muslims who want to impose Shariah, or strict Islamic law, on both Muslims and non-Muslims.
One Christian in Baghdad told the Barnabas Fund, a ministry focused on persecuted believers: "It is going to be like Iran ... all Christians are afraid."
If you're like me, statements such as these stir my heart.
That's why I am involved in World Relief, which is working to equip churches around the globe to help victims of poverty, disease, hunger and war. This way, when the "official" programs have ended, the local church remains to continue ministering to hurting people.
World Relief was founded nearly 60 years ago as an outgrowth of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), now headed by Ted Haggard, pastor of New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and senior contributing editor to Ministries Today.
Now, Ted has launched a program called Operation Iraqi Care (operationiraqicare.org). The concept is simple: Raise money in the United States from the American churches, then channel it through the church in Iraq. They will then use the money to help people in Iraq who have been devastated by the war, most of whom are Muslims. In the process we help to fulfill the law of Christ: "'Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you'" (Luke 6:28, NIV).
Rough budget costs are just under $2 million and would be used for resettlement of families, as well as reconstruction of homes, schools and water supply infrastructures.
May I make a bold request? We need 1,000 churches to take offerings with the goal of raising $1,000 each. What a lofty goal: $1 million raised from our readers. We are cooperating with Christian Life Missions, the nonprofit partner of Strang Communications through which we have channeled millions of dollars over the years from our readers, taking nothing for overhead.
Donations, marked "Operation Iraqi Care," can be made payable to: Christian Life Missions, P.O. Box 952248, Lake Mary, FL 32795-2248. The money will be channeled to Iraq through World Relief.
The coming months will be a key time for Iraqis. Won't you join us in this unprecedented effort? And, won't you pray for God to bring revival to the nation of Iraq?
Stephen Strang is publisher of Ministries Today and founder of a multimedia company that is proclaiming Jesus worldwide.