Saddam Hussein is gone, and the nation is moving (albeit slowly) toward an independent democracy. But it's still not easy being a Christian in Iraq. Iraqi Christians, who have become targets of attacks by Muslim extremists and bandits, are risking their lives to practice their faith and attend worship services. Each Sunday, they race through the streets to reach their churches, desperately trying to avoid any violent confrontations.
Sadly, an increasing number of believers have been killed or wounded in Muslim violence against Christians. Christian–owned shops are being vandalized, and Christian women who refuse to wear traditional scarves are also being targeted for abuse.
Yet the scene is not entirely grim. Born–again believers, including church leaders and missionary workers, suggest Iraq is heading toward its biggest spiritual revival ever after decades of fear and hardship under the regime of Saddam. They report that amid ongoing death and destruction, people are accepting Christ as their "personal Savior and Lord" daily throughout the country.
Hungry for Christ
"People are hungry for Christ," says 33–year–old Iraqi pastor Ghassan Thomas, who speaks both Arabic and English. Sitting in his Baghdad office, with distant explosions and gunfire often audible, he recalls how "the regime of Saddam Hussein did not allow the establishment" of new denominations.
"Therefore I was involved in an indirect ministry through the kindergarten, as I did not get permission to officially operate and evangelize. However, people soon said to me: 'This is like a church.'"1