By Chris Mitchell /CBN News
CWN.com – An Englishman who pastors a church in Baghdad says the city is the most dangerous place in the world to be a Christian.
Canon Andrew White, known as the “Vicar of Baghdad,” recently sat down with CBN News and talked about the plight of Christians in Iraq.
White pastors St. George’s Anglican Church in the heart of Baghdad. He says while conditions in Iraq’s capital may be better, overall, he says they’re still terrible.
He claims Baghdad remains the most dangerous place in the world. He told CBN News what life has been like for Baghdad Christians in the past year.
“The two largest Christian neighborhoods of Dora and Karada are now void of all Christians,” White said. “They had bullets put through their doors, they had letters warning them to leave, and they were given a choice – either you pay the Jizya tax or you convert to Islam, or we kill you. Of my church in Iraq, I have 1300 members in my church in Baghdad and we have six men left. All the rest have been kidnapped or killed.”
Because of the violence to Christian men, White now ministers to a church mainly of women and children. It’s a flock he describes with joy. I’ve never loved a congregation like I love my people in Baghdad and they love me as well. We just worship and serve Jesus.
He says they serve Jesus in the midst of dismal circumstances.
“Many Christians have had to leave their homes,” White said. “They’re now sleeping in churches, including the major Assyrian churches in Karada. They do not have food. they do not have water. They do not have rent money. and so being part of church and the work of church is not just providing a place for them to worship the Almighty, it is providing every need in life.”
A Call to People in the West
White points out many Christians have returned to Baghdad simply because they’re no longer allowed to stay in Syria or Jordan.
“(People in the West) should know we cannot survive without their help and their support. We need them at this time,” he said. ” They are your brothers and sisters. It doesn’t matter where you are in the world, they belong to you. They love you and they see that they’re part of a community and sometimes they say to me, ‘why don’t our brothers and sisters in the West help us?’ Aand I say to them, ‘I don’t know.'”
White pleads the cause of his beleaguered church around the world. He also works for a political solution in Iraq and reconciliation between Shiite and Sunni Muslims. He meets with Iraqi and U.S. leaders like General David Petraus, who often attends St. George’s. Even in the current climate, White warns what will happen if the U.S. pulls out of Iraq.
“If the U.S. were to pull out, there would be total and utter mayhem. The country would fall to pieces even worse. The violence would accelerate and the violence would be worse than you could possibly imagine. We went in there; we’ve got to see the work finished. And it will finish. But it’s not ever going to be easy.”
A Bright Future Ahead
Despite the hard road, White sees a bright future for the Middle East. He says in Isaiah 19, the Bible predicts a holy highway will one day stretch from Egypt through Israel all the way to Assyria or modern day Iraq.
“I think that God is so involved here in this region and the fact that God in his son Yeshua Ha Mashiah will come back to this holy city of Jerusalem, we see that this whole region is intrinsic to God’s plan and his purpose,” he said. “Even though everything is terrible, even though everything we see is awful, I know that ultimately it’s in the hands of The Almighty, and it’s glorious.”