On August 7th, Canon Andrew White was interviewed on BBC Newsnight. The plight of the Yazidis and other religious groups has been brought to attention as many are being forced to flee. Once again an ultimatum comes to the forefront of their reasons for leaving. The choice is this: Convert to Islam, Pay special taxes, or Be executed. This has led to the exodus we now see among the persecuted groups. Canon White says, “The international community needs to wake up to the needs of the people.” Those needs are rapidly growing as the people seek a safe haven.
Life has been even more crazy than normal. Having spent the past month in Iraq, Cyprus, Israel, Jordan and Kurdistan I was supposed to now be on my way to the US via the UK but I could not get on the flight from Erbil to Turkey. We arrived with an hour to spare but they would not let us on the plane. So I am still in Erbil waiting to leave in the early hours of the morning.
The work has been to complex and intense involving a variety Middle East issues, many of which are in reality so sensitive that I cannot mention. The fact is that we are working intensively on many of the reconciliation issues.
We met recently with the High Council of Religious Leaders in Iraq in Cyprus. Once again there are many issues we are dealing with unique to some of our colleagues. There is an intense commitment to try and prevent violence from ripping the country further apart. Added to the intensity of the work there has been the major issue of not having a visa to Baghdad therefore at the moment I have had to be in Erbil in the North of Iraq and my colleagues from Baghdad have had to come up to me. Added to the general complexities of our work there has been some very negative coverage of our work with the Jews in Iraqi media, so we very much need your prayers. Please pray that we do get out of Iraq in the morning and can make our way to out meetings in Lexington, Kentucky in the USA.
The programme for our US visit is below for your information. Do come if you are in the area.
March 21: Asbury Seminary, Wilmore, Estes Chapel 7:00pm
March 22: GCF, Vineyard Church, Wilmore 7:00pm
March 23: Apostles Anglican Church, Lexington 8:30 and 11:00
March 23: Cornerstone Church of Lexington 5:00pm
March 24: All Nations UMC, Nicholasville 7:00pm
March 25: Christian Student Fellowship, UK campus 7:00pm
Mar 26: Cross Tabernacle 7PM
Mar 27: Bread of Life Ministries 7PM
Mar 28: Morning speaking engagement at Indiana State University
Mar 28: Creekside Church Regional Service 7PM
Mar 29: Morning speaking engagement at Bethel Ministry School
Mar 29: Church of Praise Evening Service 6PM
Mar 30: Hoosier Harvest Church 10AM
This is a new feature that we hope to post every week. It includes links to recent online items about Iraq.
In this isse we have also included a report from the International Crisis Group which though written in August 2013 nonetheless provides an interesting analysis of events shaping Iraq’s current crisis.
If you think that this is useful information to have on the FRRME website please leave a comment or feedback below.
Click the button below to download our monthly prayer calendar.
As we prepare for our forthcoming meeting things are really becoming very intense, though I am sorry that we cannot go into the precise details about what is happening and why. Yesterday we had one of the most amazing statements by an Ayatollah that I have ever heard. This is what he said: Shia Ayatollah says we must love and support Israel
We have just had a three hour meeting with one of the Ayatollah’s. These were his words: ‘We as the Shia must love the Jews we as the Shia must love and support Israel, people must tell the Shia that without Israel we have no future’. He is not saying he agrees with everything Israel does but he is saying that Israel is the sovereign homeland of the Jewish people.
So as things continue here I simply ask that you pray for G-d’s wisdom for us; we sure do need it.
The complexities of Baghdad continue. The homicide bombings continue by the hour and there is still much uncertainty about what is happening in Al Anbar between the locals and the AQI terrorists. This whole problem has caused huge problems in the planning of our forthcoming meeting in Cyprus as there are now major concerns regarding many of the Sunni leaders being able to be present. Please pray that we can eventually get the people together. Life in Iraq continues to be full of uncertainties.
In the past two weeks we have been intimately involved in planning the Conference in both Palestine/Israel and Cyprus. It is sure to be wonderful as long as we can get everybody there. As when one is involved in anything really important there is always intense spiritual opposition and that is also the case now.
There has also been much personal and private pain. The two most important people to me in Iraq are no longer to be with me. Dawood is about to leave the country in 10 days with his dear wife Sandy and dear Lina who is now engaged will no longer even talk to me. This situation is a cause of real pain to me. You can never stop loving those who are part of your life.
Your prayers would certainly be much appreciated. The really good news is that G-d has not and will never leave you or me.
Love, Peace and Blessings,
What an incredible day yesterday. A truly wonderful time with my dear friend Justin Welby the Archbishop of Canterbury with some of my staff including Tim his son. We discussed serious things relating to the Middle East conflicts and we have several excellent ideas how to address some of these issues, a lot more to come. Apart from the things on the ground it is clear that we have a lot to do internationally as regards reconciliation.
We want to bring together the most senior Jewish, Christian and Muslim leaders to try and find a way forward. We have a lot of work to start from now. I will be returning to Baghdad today with Tim so we will have some time to work on things.
The major thing of this week is the engagement of ny adopted daughter Lina. Iraqi Christian engagements are a major public and spiritual betrothal, totally unlike anything in the West. The big day is next Wednesday.
Before that we have another very important event, which is the children’s first Communion, one of our biggest services of the year. So it should be a week for some good pictures.
What does G-d say? The trauma in Iraq over the lastfew days has been immense. People have been killed bombs have gone of one stop and it would be normal for people to say why? Why does G-d allow such awful things? It is question that is often asked to us Whatas Christian’s. Why does God allow such awful things to happen if he is really in control? Bombs, illness, famine. These are indeed the real questions of life.
I remember the days when I was at studying theology in Cambridge. I was at a very good Evangelical College Ridley Hall. Studying theology is never easy, training for ministry it is always difficult but the hardest thing for me was dealing with the intensity and negativity of so many of my fellow students. The doubts and anger and theological questions. When we are faced with suffering we always have questions. They main one being “Why Lord why?” it is natural to ask questions, but the issue is how we respond. For us as Christians our response has to be different.
In the midst of our immense difficulties and problems we have to remember the most basic thing in our life, our relationship with G-d. It is a relationship based in LOVE it is only the love of G-d that can sustain us in such suffering. It is only knowing His love that will sustain us and enable us to cope with out major theological questions of theodicy, (Why does a good God allow evil). We may be faced with major theological questions but our response is also a major theological. Like the response to most issues of suffering there is no clear easy response. The fundamental issue is the we live with a partially inaugurated eschatology. In other words G-d’s glory and majesty have been revealed yet at the same time the present evil age continues. In other words Man and the world fell soon after creation. The world remained in a fallen state until Jesus comes in all his glory. When our Lord comes the world radically changes. Suddenly light is revealed in darkness. People have hope, light and a future. Jesus has come, life has changed.
Whilst change has come, the way of salvation has been revealed miracles happen and we live with supernatural God given power the present evil age continues. So we live in a post cross world but the present evil age continues. With its evil brokenness, terror trauma and evil continue. Yet there are so many Christians who think all brokenness and evil has gone. Indeed in 2 Corinthians 5 :17 we read that “the old has gone, the new has come” but that does not mean that all evil is over forever. It does not but we are told that “the suffering of this world is nothing to compare with the glory that is to come” Romans 8:28. So in scripture we are told of this ongoing battle between suffering and glory. Is the nature of the challenge we live with daily. It is the challenge of a partially inaugurated eschatology. I find it very difficult when Christian friends imply that if we are really living in Christ we have all the answers. We only need the real faith to have total healing and a total end of all tragedy.
My Lord is with us always despite the suffering. Our G-d suffers with us, as I will write about that soon when I look at the suffering of Christ.
With every blessing,
I came back to Baghdad early because things were terrible but what I have found is worse than even I could even have ever imagined it. We cannot move even with my police and army security. We have never had to cancel a service but the youth service this evening will be impossible. Even today’s the bombs are exploding scores are being killed and total massacre has been released. Today is the worst war zone I have ever seen. I am told that I will not be able to enter the green zone to take tomorrows US Embassy services, I will I have no idea how but please pray that I can. I simply need a miracle and out G-d specialises in them.
All this rapid deterioration is because tomorrow we have provincial election. They are only like regional council elections. Is this the so-called democracy? It is fine for people to say we are going to bring democracy to the Middle East. We don’t want it. It does not work here it just causes massive death and destruction. All that works here is G-d and his light, life and love. That is all that gives us hope.
There are no journalists and so no news locally or internationally. I wish you could get news from here but you cant. The news today is shared by face book. With vivid pictures and pictures of friends killed. The news is so so awful that I just want to share one of Al Hassan’s short videos of the wonderful children with me at Church.
Recently on BBC News
It is difficult to describe the extremes of the last few days. I travelled back to England for Archbishop Justin’s enthronement in Canterbury Cathedral, but before that great event it was the 10th Anniversary of the start of the war in Iraq. I landed in Heathrow and went straight to the BBC studios in London for the first of many interviews on Iraq ten years on. I eventually got back home to Liphook but the interviews continued by phone. The next day there was time for a quick meeting with my team before heading to Canterbury. This was on the Wednesday but from then until the enthronement on Thursday all the interviews were about my friend Archbishop Justin.
During all this preparation for the great event there was continuous news of tragedies back in Baghdad. There was bomb after bomb after bomb; people close to us were hurt but not killed. Amongst all of this I went into Canterbury Cathedral for what proved to be a truly powerful yet emotional event as I watched my close colleague installed on the throne of St Augustine. Archbishop Justin spoke with humility and power – in this Archbishop the church and nation has great hope.
The following day I made my journey back overnight to Istanbul and then on to Baghdad. I arrived at 8am and then without sleep had the two US Embassy services to take as we celebrated the Palm Sabbath. The following day was the celebration of Palm Sunday at St George’s. This is one of the most triumphant and wonderful services of the year. As we celebrated our Lord’s journey to Jerusalem we could not forget that the Palms would soon turn into nails.
Monday morning, as Holy Week began, so the tragedy of Iraq continued with the now normal morning bombings. That evening though our friends from the “voice of the martyrs” in Canada arrived and they are with us until Friday and are having a very active time of seeing our daily life.
Last night was a very important night it was the beginning of Pesach or Passover. Yes, this is a major festival for all Jews, but it should also be for all Christians. This is a feast of obligation for us all. Though it is rather strange celebrating it in Iraq I will never forget just after the war here, I helped organise the Seder meal for all the Jewish Staff in Saddam Hussain’s Palace. So here is the scripture that shows this is forever.
Exodus 12: 17-20
Celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread, because it was on this very day that I brought your divisions out of Egypt. Celebrate this day as a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. In the first month you are to eat bread made without yeast, from the evening of the fourteenth day until the evening of the twenty-first day. For seven days no yeast is to be found in your houses. And anyone, whether foreigner or native-born, who eats anything with yeast in it must be cut off from the community of Israel. Eat nothing made with yeast. Wherever you live, you must eat unleavened bread.
The story of the liberation of the Jews is a mirror image of the salvation we remember this week when the Palms turned to nails. It is a time of salvation that we must never forget.
Hag Sameach and a blessed Holy Week,