Christians in Iraq: More Than Survivors

evgdd.jpgBy Heather Sells / CBN News – The war in Iraq had a devastating impact on Christians there.
Saddam Husseins’s regime held Islamic radicals at bay, and since his fall, Chrsitians have been under attack by those extremists.

But some believers say things are beginning to turn around.

Reports of kidnappings, church attacks and other violence against Christians in Iraq have painted a dark picture of life there.

Close to 1 million Christians have fled their homes and Iraq completely.

An Anglican priest in Iraq, known as “The Vicar of Baghdad,” says extremists have murdered most of the men in his parish.

“The heat really turned up in the two largest Christian neighborhoods, Dora and Karada,” the Vicar said. “They had bullets put through their doors, letters warning them to leave. They were told to ‘pay the Al Jazeera tax, convert to Islam or we will kill you.'”

But some missionaries say that’s beginning to change.

“Yes, it was very tough, and after – especially after 2004 until six months ago – it was very bad for the Christians,” said General Georges Sada. “But I can assure you now that the churches have again opened and the services and the worshipping is going on with great freedom.”

General Sada is an Iraqi Christian who now works with a U.S.-based ministry called World Compassion.

Sada says even though Christians still face major challenges, things are improving and Christians are returning home.

“Before , there was a lot of fear – I mean, four or five months ago,” continued Sada.”But now, no – there is no fear. And you hope that this will increase and that it will make peace a hundred percent everywhere.”

The greatest strides have been made in the Kurdish part of Iraq, in the north.

World Compassion’s Operations Director Joel Vesanen has been working with one church there that’s seen incredible growth.

It started with just eight people eight years ago, but now he says the church of former Muslims has 400 members.

“By and large, when you look at what the country looked like six months ago and you look at it today, I think we’ve got a lot to be thankful for,” Vesanen said.

“I know God is there,” added the Vicar. “The Lord is