Church in Kurdistan experiencing freedom and blessings
It is a cause of much rejoicing that Kurdistan, the most peaceful of the provinces, now enjoys the greatest freedom of religion. Indeed, the region has recently seen the establishment of a Bible Society - a development unheard of in an Islamic country.
Latimer was fortunate to hear an interview with Air Vice Marshal (ret'd) Georges Sada, who is Senior Warden at St George's (Anglican) Church in Baghdad and who has been a prominent Christian voice in Iraqi for more than 30 years. He was brought out of retirement by Saddam Hussain during the Gulf War, and promoted to be assistant head of the Iraqi Air Force. Mr Sada said: ‘Saddam surrounded himself with Christians. He only trusted Christians not to kill him. Christians are very peaceful people. God gives us the ability to love the one that hates us.’
Cranmer is pleased to share with his communicants the only reportage of the interview with Air Vice Marshal Sada:
‘If the Allies leave now, it will be a catastrophe. You must realise that Iraq is a democracy now for the first time ever. Seventy-one percent of the people voted. Eighty-eight women were elected. There are 275 seats in the assembly. This is better than the Congress or the Parliament in London.
Our country is liberated. Kurdistan has a new constitution. It is the first province to have separation of the mosque and the state. Christians now have complete freedom of worship. There are churches (formed) of former Muslims in towns in Kurdistan. Hundreds are turning from Islam to Christianity, now there is a theological college in Kurdistan with official recognition for the first time in the history of Iraq. A Bible Society also opened.
Iraq was always ruled by the Sunnis in the central part. They are not used to others having power. But it will take time for us to learn to live in a democracy.’
In retirement, Air Vice Marshal Sada has devoted himself to good works in the service of the church. In addition to his duties at St. George’s, he is President of the National Presbyterian Church of Iraq and Chairman of the Assembly of Iraqi Evangelical Presbyterian Churches. He drew attention to the fact that Iraq was historically a Christian country, and has been since 47AD:
‘Much of the Bible was written in Iraq. Nineveh is in the middle of Iraq. Jonah preached to the Assyrians there and they repented, but Jonah didn’t like it. Father Abraham came from a village that is beside the Baghdad Airport. I have shown it many times to military people who arrive at the Airport.
Interestingly, the President of Iraq, Nouri al Malaki, mooted recently the idea of a Christian region in the country, and it appears that the Assyrian Christians are winning the support of the government for the idea of a region of their own, around Nineveh. The President’s words of support to the Assyrians were extraordinary:
‘I have a bias towards the Assyrian Christians. They are the indigenous people of our country and our most nationalist and good people. We want them (ie the 500,000 Assyrian émigrés) to be inside the country and active and able to retake their rights. We will do all we can to help them. At the same time, if they feel they need an area, a province of their own as the Constitution promises, I support this fully.’
Significantly for President Bush and Prime Minister Brown, President Maliki expressed strong opposition to a premature withdrawal of their forces, which he says would be disastrous: ‘In the end we will be able to take care of ourselves; meanwhile, we need the help of our friends to stand against those who want to harm us’.
Air Vice Marshal Sada ended his interview with a request that Christians pray for Iraq and for him personally: ‘My family name means a martyr, because early on, many of our family were killed for their faith’.
Cranmer is most grateful to Latimer for this encouragement, which has received no mention at all in the MSM. He also identifies with the request for prayer for the Assyrian church. Latimer notes: ‘Due to the Internet, Islam has totally lost control of thought and information and can no longer keep its people isolated from the rest of the world. Many Muslims are jumping ship as they reject the stifling cultishness of Islam. I have no doubt we will see great things from the much-martyred Assyrian people.’
Dona nobis pacem.