BAGHDAD, IRAQ (BosNewsLife)– Amid reported death threats and violence against Iraq’s Christian minority, a mission group has managed to open a third Christian school in Iraq as part of government-backed reconciliation efforts, BosNewsLife monitored Saturday, June 14.
US-based Partners International Ministries (PIM) dedicated its third Christian school in Northern Iraq, with support from Iraqi authorities, reported Mission Network News, an American Christian broadcaster and news service.
“Education in English was a hug asset. So we decided to establish schools that we are teaching in English, connected with an American school that would actually issue an American diploma, certified and complete, valid on American soil,” said a PIM official, who was only identified as Carlos C. , apparently for security reasons.
He said the school is located on three acres of land donated by the government. While the exact location was not revealed amid ongoing anti-Christian violence, he said an official of Iraqi minististry of education attended the opening. “He said Iraq is trying to reconcile people. And whatever you hear, this is a place where we value democracy, and everyone is welcome,” Carlos quoted the unidentified official as saying.
While most children and their parents in the area are predominately Muslim, Carlos said that government officials â€œactually take their kids to that Christian school, and they perceive the school on a daily basis as a place of reconciliation, as a place for the future. And it is being led by Christians.”
Carlos said he is “amazed by what God’s doing” in Northern Iraq. “These people are trusting their kids to the care and the hands of a Christian education. Adults entrusting their kids to the hands of Christian educators so that the future can be better — that is amazing. And that’s only possible by God’s grace.”
PIM also runs churches, bookstores, a women’s center, a medical center and a print shop in the area, he said. Carlos admitte that preaching Christ, his group’s main focus, is not an easy task in nowadays Iraq. “It’s a culture that is not used to anything that is Christian. It is an Islamic background. And so we will be happy if the kids – for year one – will only see that Christians are human and not bad people. And we start by putting in Christian values.”
The Christian schools come at a time when thousands of Iraqi Christians have fled the country. However MNN reported that the troop surge appears to be quelling a lot of the violence, especially in the north where Partners International has been working for 15 years. President George W. Bush has reportedly praised recent developments in Iraq, but regretted the “war rhetoric” during his trip in Europe, which began this week in Slovenia and also included a visit to the Vatican. (BosNewsLife MISSION WATCH is a regular look at key mission developments and missionaries working in difficult circumstances and/or the two-thirds world).