All the Staff of a Church Killed in Iraq
Rev. Canon Andrew White
Baghdad (Iraq), SVM News, 30 December, 2006: All the staff of the church of Revd. Canon Andrew PB White has been killed during the last year in Iraq. Persecution against Christians increased during the Iraq war and several Christians murdered and so many have fled Iraq. Few remain to keep the Christ candle lit but they live daily in fear for their existence.
Christians throughout the Middle East have paid with their lives. If their bodies were not slain, they now breathe by looking over their shoulders.
Egyptian Coptics, Iraqi Chaldeans and the Palestinian Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Protestant communities are facing violence and even death at the hands of their Muslim neighbours.
'My staff members disappeared about a year ago and we never saw them again. Of the rest of my congregation, most say they have been targeted in some way or have had letters delivered with bullets in them. People forget, or the Islamic groups don’t realize, that Christianity was in the Middle East before them and therefore they see Christians as being part of the Western coalition military presence. Things have got considerably worse since the Iraq war.' Pastor Canon Andrew White, who is also the president of the Foundation for Reconciliation in the Middle East said.
Tensions have also increased elsewhere. In Syria one Christian Assyrian said that he was planning to emigrate to Canada because of growing Islamic fundamentalism in a society having to absorb huge numbers of Iraqi refugees. 'I do not feel at ease any longer and I do not want my two sons to live in this polarized society and atmosphere', that man said.
'In Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, Christian Arabs are a vulnerable minority caught between sympathy for their fellow Palestinians under Israeli occupation and their own tensions with the much larger Muslim Palestinian community.'
In Gaza, Christians saw neighbour's anger mount at the US-led occupation of Iraq. Matters were made worse by the publication of cartoons of Muhammad and by a speech from Benedict XVI that described Islam as a religion of violence.
Hanna Massad, the pastor of Gaza Baptist Church, said that the conflicts highlighted a difficult issue of identity for Christian Arabs. He asked, 'The issue is who we are; Are we first Christians or are we Palestinians?'
'For me my priority is my faith. I am a Christian first but I am also a Palestinian, I am Arab. Of course as a Christian Palestinian Arab we suffer with the [Israeli] occupation but at the same time I cannot, because of my personal faith, use violence.'
Idris Salahudeen, the Pastor of the Salem Voice Ministries said it is very difficult to work as a christian. Even though, hundreds upon hundreds ordinary muslims believing Jesus and secretly converting into Christianity by seeing brutal behaviour of fundamentalists towards Christians. Maybe this torturing is a purification of Palastinians and Assyrian Christians to have more faith and courage.
Within few years the whole Iraq and the other Muslim nations will come to Christ by the work of the Holy Spirit. Satan knows it, that's why he tries to discourage and destroy the Christian workers and the believers over there. But our Lord Jesus will have the final victory. Pastor Paul Ciniraj Mohamed, the Director of the Salem Voice Ministries and also well known Gospel preacher and author of several christian books said.
The torturing towards christianity will be increasing more, because of the execution of Saddam Hussein, the country's former dictator. But children of God should pray and pray more with a deep burden for the lost souls. Our Lord will give us strength and He will fight for us. Pastor Paul Ciniraj added.
Anyhow it is a shame on those in free nations who proclaim the Christian pulpit while desecrating it with apostate teachings that offend the heart of God. Shame on those clergy and laity who foster devilment in the name of the Christian church while actually genuine Christians are giving up their mortal existences in order to further the gospel tidings of salvation through Christ Jesus alone. Pastor Canon white said with tears.
It is interesting that while many within the mainline Protestant denominations have gone apostate with teachings that are against biblical morality, in other parts of the world Christians are dying for that very biblical ethic. While portions of the Protestant segments abandon their allegiance to Christ as God, others elsewhere are laying down their bodies for execution in the name of 'Christian'., he added.
Pastor Canon Andrew White was a graduate of accredited college (BA) and seminary (M Div) with graduate work at Harvard Divinity School. Married for 44 years with 3 adult children. Author of 5 books and thousands of articles in various Protestant and Catholic magazines, journals, web sites, and newspapers.