Good news from Iraq
Good news from Iraq
Baptists are missionary people. Their primary mission is to go into all the world, preach the Gospel and make disciples (Matthew 28,19-20). Church planting is a natural way to enable this to happen.
EBF-supported indigenous missionaries are starting new churches and the Indigenous Mission Project is seeing significant fruit in changed lives and transformed communities.
The experience of IMP confirms that indigenous missionaries are the most effective in church planting ministry. They know their people, culture and language, and that makes their success possible.The ministry of church planting is both exciting and demanding which needs much support. New churches are being planted in some of the most difficult places.
God’s mission despite the war
Much of what we hear in the news at the moment is about the war in Iraq. However there is also better news that comes to us from that disturbed and wounded country.
According to the current reports of Baptist leaders who know the local situation, the Iraqi people are now much more open to the Gospel than ever before. In spite of the war there have been thousands of Bibles distributed, numerous evangelistic events organized and new churches started. There are for example approximately 3000 Evangelical believers in 12 churches in Baghdad alone. Some new Baptist congregations were also started in the north of Iraq.
Church planting in Iraq
The Baptist work began in Baghdad in 1985 through international mission partnerships and close cooperation with the Jordanian & Lebanese Baptists. At that time the Presbyterian Church was the only Evangelical body present there. One indigenous missionary worked since 1990 with some families in home groups. This was actually an underground church. Such gatherings were not allowed, so the group constantly changed meeting places & dates.
During the war over 30 believers were baptized in a big plastic swimming pool that was installed in the backyard of one home. On 16 January 2004, the dedication of the First Baghdad Baptist Church and the ordination of its pastor took place.
Over the past two years the church has grown very fast. The average attendance on a Sunday is over 200 adults despite the difficult circumstances of attending church entails for many people. It is important to keep in mind that Sunday is working day in Iraq which prevents some people from going to church.
Every Friday, which is a day off in Iraq, various other groups have their meetings including the children and youth. In addition, there are theological classes by extension and two discipleship training classes. At least 450 individuals go to the First Baptist Church of Baghdad every week.
It is also possible to openly distribute Christian books and resources from Baptist Publications to the Iraqi people. Several Christian book exhibitions have been organized. In addition to that some underprivileged families receive parcels of food. The essential part of the ministry is through to an evangelistic team which regularly visits non-Christian families in order to share the Gospel. A second ‘follow up’ group takes care of new converts.
Several members of the Baghdad Baptist Church were sent abroad to study theology. They will return to serve the Lord in Iraq after completing their studies.
A new Baptist Church is being planted on the other side of the Tigris River, where there is no Evangelical witness and the vast majority of people are not Christians. Additionally, there are other church planting projects planned for the north of the country.
The Indigenous missionary in Iraq is planting a new church in Baghdad. The mother church of this church plant is the FB Church of Baghdad. The church planter began working with only one family in 2006 and by March 2007 he was ministering to eight families. They meet in a rented building (they believe that a purchase of their own building in the future would help to keep costs down). The church has a good transportation system set up, which enables many people to come from the local neighborhood. The church planter & his team have discovered that prayer has great power.
Pray for the advancing ministry of the Gospel & church planting in Iraq. Pray that the presently observed spiritual openness of the Iraqi people will continue and potential obstacles will be overcome. Pray that reconciliation between all of the people of this wounded country will happen as soon as possible.