Thursday, November 01, 2007

Church in Kurdistan experiencing freedom and blessings

Cranmer has received news from Latimer, his loyal communicant in Iraq, who imparts information hitherto unpublished. It appears that the violence previously endured by Assyrian Christians has abated significantly over recent months, thanks primarily to improved intelligence and the rapid degradation of enemies within Iraq, not least, through the discovery of hundreds of names of insurgents who have now been arrested.

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.


Blogger Surreptitious Evil said...

Your Grace,

Hopefully, the Air Marshal meant the Patriarch Abraham, rather than this 'gentle'man? Lost in translation, perhaps?

Although relocating the person reprehensible for such slurs on Western civilisation to Baghdad may be an entirely appropriate punishment.

1 November 2007 at 08:10  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Far-called, our navies melt away;
On dune and headland sinks the fire:
Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!
Judge of the Nations, spare us yet,
Lest we forget - lest we forget!"

The rebirth of an Assyrian Nineveh would be a momentous event. But the confluence of Kurdistan, Turkey and oil may make such an endeavour somewhat perilous. Nevertheless, I am sure Kipling would have wished them well, as I do too.

1 November 2007 at 08:53  
Blogger Greg said...

I am constantly amazed how God uses our mess to further the Kingdom. Thanks for this report.

1 November 2007 at 16:38  
Blogger C4' said...

I enjoyed reading Georges Sada's book "Saddam Secrets". The recent Israeli air strike on Syrian bio-chemical and nuclear facilities didn't surprises because in his book Sada claimed the Saddam shipped his WMDs out of the country into Syria.

1 November 2007 at 17:02  
Blogger Savage44 said...

What a tremendously encouraging thing to read. How amazing the power of God is. I've prayed despairingly for the people of Iraq since the invasion - I should have more faith.

Interesting also that even Saddam Hussein, surely a Godless man if ever there was one, nevertheless witnessed to the truth of Christianity.

2 November 2007 at 14:39  

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