Presbyterians hear of group’s work to save Christianity in Iraq

large_mad.jpgby Independent Press
HELP FOR CHRISTIANS IN IRAQ — On Sunday, March 22, a delegation from the Chicago-based Iraqi Christian Relief Council (ICR Council) presented “Save the Flickering Light of Christianity in Iraq” at a community-wide educational and fundraising event hosted by the Presbyterian Church of Madison. Over 50 people attended this inaugural east coast event, and nearly $10,000 was raised to aid these ancient, indigenous Chaldeans, ‘Assyrians’ and Syriacs’ desperate plight. Over half the population of Iraqi Christians has been forced to migrate with little or no assistance, and the situation may worsen. For more information on the ICR Council, please visit www.iraqichristianrelief.org. Pictured (from left to right) are Julianna Taimoorazy, founder and President; Randa Danka, a widowed refugee; and Violet Khamoo, a founding member.MADISON — On Sunday, March 22, a delegation from the Chicago-based Iraqi Christian Relief Council (ICR Council) presented “Save the Flickering Light of Christianity in Iraq” at a community-wide educational and fundraising event hosted by the Presbyterian Church of Madison.
More than 50 people attended this inaugural east coast event and learned about the rampant religious cleansing afflicting Iraqi Christians in their war-torn homeland. Nearly $10,000 was raised from this event, and these funds will directly aid these desperate Christians.

Modern-day Iraqi Christians are Assyrians, Chaldeans, and Syriacs that trace their ancestry back to the great Assyrian and Babylonian empires cited in the Old Testament. They practice Christian Orthodox, Catholic, and Presbyterian (Reformed) faiths.

Prior to 2004, these Christian faithful numbered 1.4 million. Today, daily violent persecution has decimated their population to approximately 700,000. Those remaining are forced to worship underground, and the extensive violence against them – extortion, kidnapping, torture and murder, church bombings, and Christian leader beheadings – has left the refugees with great basic everyday need. “With no home, food, work, school, or medical care,” said Juliana Taimoorazy, IRC Council President, “the need is great to help these poor indigenous people.

Their hope within is slowly diminishing and it now lies with allies outside Iraq.”

Two of the program’s presenters know this despair and hope firsthand. Randa Danka is a war survivor who was born and raised in Baghdad. She and her husband lived in Mosul until he fell victim to persecution and she was left to mourn his violent death. Danka and her daughter fled to Syria and then moved to Chicago a year and a half ago.

Violet Khamoo is one of the original volunteers for the ICR Council. On a recent visit to northern Iraq, she personally witnessed the horrific living conditions of the Christians there. Violet is from Kirkuk, Iraq, and currently resides in Chicago.

The ICR Council is an all-volunteer, 501c(3)-pending organization founded in Chicago in 2007 by Taimoorazy. Benjamin Ostrom, a Madison Presbyterian Church Elder and Mission & Outreach Committee member, said, “Through the years of the war in Iraq, these long-standing small, native communities were thrust into a maelstrom, similar to that witnessed for minorities in Sudan, Bosnia, and even Rwanda. Yet, little has been heard of their unique suffering. Even relative peace in Iraq does not cease their plight, and urgent action is needed.”

The Presbyterian Church of Madison has been a pillar of Christian faith in Madison and its neighboring communities since 1747. It is a spiritually rich congregation that offers joyful worship, challenging adult classes, an innovative Sunday school program, and meaningful mission and outreach opportunities.

http://www.nj.com/independentpress/index.ssf/2009/04/presbyterians_hear_of_groups_w.html