Turkey (MNN) â€• At least 27 people died and about 100 were wounded Wednesday when three car bombs ripped through a southern Iraqi city where rival Shiite groupsÂ have been battling for control of oil and power. These ongoing skirmishes have forced thousands of Christians from their homes.
A Baghdad-based believer says about 90 percent of Iraqi Christians have either fled Iraq or have been killed after being targeted for assassination by Islamic extremists. By some estimates, there were once more than 1 million Christians in Iraq. Many of them are now living in Turkey.
Johan Candelin is with the World Evangelical Alliance and serves at the Executive Director of their Religious Liberty Commission. Candelin says these refugees in Turkey have become his mission. “I’m going to Turkey to bring Christmas gifts and help to the Christian refugees that have left Iraq. The challenge is huge, but it’s better to do a little than to do nothing. So that’s why I’m going there to comfort them, to share the Gospel about the birth of Jesus Christ and bring them some food and toys for the children.”
Candelin says his focus is on a small group of 2,000 Iraqis who have had loved ones killed or kidnapped. He explains. “Many have had children that have been taken away, and then they had to pay $10,000 or $20,000 to get them back. Once they got them back, they left the country and said, ‘There is no future in Iraq for us any more.’ So unfortunately, the Christian population in Iraq is leaving the country very fast. It is becoming a totally Muslim country, unfortunately.”
Candelin says he’ll be doing this work all by himself. He’s hoping to help up to 400 Iraqis in his brief trip. He’s encouraging Christians in the west to do something. “The least you can do is the most you can do, and that is to pray. But also, if you want to give a financial gift at Christmas, that will be very much appreciated.”