Mike is running for St George’s

Mike ThomasMike Thomas is running the Isle of Axholme Half Marathon to raise money to support the work of St George’s Church, Baghdad. Mike writes:

“To celebrate my 55th birthday I have decided to risk dodgy knee and slipped disc and put myself through a bit of pain to benefit those in Baghdad who have suffered the most awful pain in recent years.   I would be so grateful if you could join me in trying to raise £600 to support his work of reconciliation and humanitarian aid.”

Please consider encouraging Mike, and helping the work of St George’s to serve the congregation and wider community, by making a donationto Mike’s efforts – it’s very simple through just giving and you can donate by credit card or paypal – just click here!

September Update

Dear Friends,

As floods hit parts of the UK, damaging homes and transport links, let us reflect on the far greater destruction which regularly strikes Iraq and those who live there. This month in FRRME we have been, yet again, attempting to ebb the flow.

Council of Peacemakers

On the 24th September, Sheikh Khaled al-Mulla, the leading Sunni Cleric in Baghdad, met with the ministers of Baghdad’s Protestant churches. At this meeting, Sheikh al-Mulla suggested that a Council of Peacemakers be formed which would meet every month and involve those present, as well as other key Sunni, Shia and Christian leaders. The council would focus not on differences but on how to work together for a better Iraq, both issuing authoritative statements and working to implement them practically.

Joint Christian-Muslim Declaration regarding the Mohammed Film

On the 25th September, Christian, Sunni and Shia leaders met to issue a statement condemning the film ‘Innocence of Muslims’.

We as Christian and Muslim leaders in Iraq totally condemn the recent film criticising Prophet Mohammed (PBUH). We as Christians and Muslims call for all to respect the religion of others and to hold it in highest regard. Having been working together for several years we now declare the establishment of the Iraqi Council of Peacemakers that will meet each month in our desire to overcome all sectarianism and demonstrate our unity.

The declaration was signed by Sayed Jawad Al Khoie (Shia), Sheikh Khaled al Mulla (Sunni), Canon Andrew White (Anglican), Pastor Farouk (Presbyterian) and many others.

Visits from Archdeacon and Open Doors

Canon Andrew White, Baghdad, Iraq - FRRMEThis month Archdeacon Bill Schwartz visited Baghdad. He was able to meet with various Sunni and Shia leaders on International Peace Day, and met with other Christian Canon Andrew White, Baghdad, Iraq - FRRMEleaders to talk about how they can work together, both of which helped to foster unity in Baghdad. He was also able to visit people’s homes and attend services at the church.

We also received a visit from four Open Doors workers. They were able to discuss the situation for Christians in Iraq with the Christian Minister of the Environment and see the hardships of St George’s poor families.

The Death Toll Increases

Terrorist bombings in September 2012This month experienced yet another day of mass killing in Iraq. The Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi was convicted of orchestrating large scale violence in a politically charged case, leading to accusations that Shia Prime Minister Nouri al-Mailiki is monopolizing power. This was met by increased Sunni attacks around Iraq; Sunday 9th September saw the deaths of over one hundred people.

The publication of the film ‘Innocence of Muslims’ has also led to an escalation of tensions. Many Christians have gone into hiding for fear of reprisals. Pray that God will keep them safe and that further violence will not ensue.

Construction of the Church Toilet Block

St George’s is now in the process of constructing a much needed toilet block. The block even has the luxury of being attached to a sewage system. (Many in Baghdad do not have access to this modern convenience). It is hoped that all work will be complete by the beginning of October.

October Prayer Diary

The prayer diary is now available to download and join us in interceding for Andrew’s work and the work of FRRME in the Middle East during October.

“The Long Bike Ride”

david-post-long-bike-ride-for-st-georges-church-baghdad

Retired vicar David Post started his “Long Bike Ride” around the Hebrides and Northern Ireland (from his home in Market Rasen) to raise money for St George’s Church and Clinic on 24 May.

David’s family have started a blog about the ride and we encourage you to visit http://bike4baghdad.tumblr.com/ to stay up to date with David’s progress. Please visit the blog and add your support for this amazing effort.

You can make a donation to FRRME and show your support for David’s wonderful efforts by going straight to David’s fundraising page on JustGiving.

We will keep you up to date as we hear from David and his family.

 

From Nick Shenow in Baghdad

Nick Shenow with Ramsi, the accountant at St George's in Baghdad

Nick & Ramsi

A World of Extremes and Laughter

Baghdad is a world of extremes. I now sit yards from St George’s Church. The minute I walk inside its walls and focus on Jesus, I find I am nearly in tears; God’s presence can be felt so strongly here. From that place of peace, to just across the city where on Sunday, a massive suicide car bomb was detonated outside the Police Academy. We were completely unaware until we looked at the BBC News the next day! Several were killed. Their body parts strewn everywhere. People can go from peace to extreme violence in the space of a few city blocks.

I have met with many in St George’s. They are a passionate and committed community full of hope. I love their outlook, their humour and healthy cynicism. As we drove through the city this morning a new building was pointed out to me. I thought, “Perhaps this reconstruction is a symbol of progress?” As if reading my mind one of the staff immediately answered me, “Ha, a new building. Nick, you know what happens when they put up a new building?” I said that I didn’t. “Someone comes and tries to blow it up. Just because!” Ironically we laughed at this absurd situation, two steps forward and one step back.

Of course wanton violence is part of the picture here. But it is only a ‘part’ of the picture. God is painting His parts too. For instance, I went to a home for children today with severe physical handicaps and learning disabilities who were cared for by ladies who have left everything to devote themselves to these little ones. I have spoken to a young Muslim man who is getting to know Jesus here at St George’s. I spoke with Lana, a Kindergarten teacher, who has asked if you would pray for the political situation to stabilise. Why? So the Kindergarten children in St George’s can have a future in Iraq. So with your prayers we can build a future for Iraq and paint a very different picture for God.

Just three more things: On Sunday I saw our food aid distributed to several hundred families. On Monday I saw a tooth extracted in the clinic – ouch. Finally and thirdly, today I decided to look with the eyes of faith. I saw signs of not just hope, but laughter and humour. I see God laughing. I see him laughing at his enemies: laughing at the wanton violence, laughing at those who kill their countrymen in the name of some other god. Through the acts of love and hope I see our God’s laughter is moving through the people of St Georges and God is winning in Iraq.

With love from Nick

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