Thursday, October 29, 2009

From Canon Andrew White, the ‘Vicar of Baghdad’

It is one thing to read or watch the media reports of the continuing terror attacks in Iraq, but it is perhaps not until one experiences that one may feel. Canon Andrew White, the ‘Vicar of Baghdad’ is also president of the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East (FRRME). His church, St George's, is the only Anglican church remaining in Iraq. Its congregation and staff have continued despite many threats and attacks.

Last Sunday, the church and its clinic were damaged in a bomb attack. Outside the church at least 132 people were killed and over 600 injured. St George's Church, its congregation and staff are a vital example of Christian witness in the Middle East and deserve our prayers and support.

Please read Canon White's message below and consider making a donation.

25 October 2009

Dear Friends,

I am very sorry to tell you that the two major bomb explosions in Baghdad this morning have done serious damage to the church compound, the clinic, the bookshop, the school rooms and the mothers' union buildings. The windows were replaced after the bombings on 19 August, but they have been destroyed again, and this blast hit the church much more powerfully. Even the window frames and the doors were blown out. All of the cars in the compound and the Danish Memorial were destroyed.

And the clinic? The St George's clinic provides free medical and dental treatment to people in Iraq, regardless of their religious or ethnic background. It is staffed by a team of medics representing each of the Abramic faiths: Muslim, Christian and Jew. It contained high quality medical equipment provided by charitable donations to the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East. In a moment, much of this equipment has been destroyed, placing it permanently out of reach of the Iraqi people who need it so desperately.

Outside the church, at least 132 people were killed and over 600 injured. Destroyed fragments of their bodies have been thrown through windows of the church, making the clean-up operation yet more unpleasant. Many of our staff and church members remain unaccounted for. Lay Pastor Faiz and I have been trying in vain to reach them by telephone.

Today was a terrible day for us. But even in the blood and trauma and turmoil, there are things for which we can, and indeed must, praise our G-d. The carnage was terrible, but it could have been even worse. At 10.30am this morning, when the bombs exploded, there was no-one in the church. If the bomb had been just a few hours later, the glass from the windows would have ripped through the congregation causing terrible human damage. Yesterday an enormous tree fell down outside the church, which prevented the suicide bomber from detonating his explosives where they would have caused maximum damage.

Some people ask us whether days like today make us want to give up. We have seen much of what we have worked for destroyed. We have seen people we love bereaved. But the truth is, it is days like today that remind us why our work in Iraq is absolutely essential. We must continue to provide a place of worship for Iraqi Christians. We must continue to treat the medical needs of Iraqi civilians. And we must continue to engage with the senior religious leaders from across the sectarian divides, working with them to challenge the belief systems that lie behind this terrible slaughter. We will not stop because of this.

Will you stand with us and help us to restore what was destroyed?



To donate, either by standing order or with a one-off payment, please see the donations page of their website.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

From David Lonsdale

Your Grace, your post has left me speechless and tearful. I am not so worthy as to gather up the crumbs under Canon White's table.
Thank God for the tree.

29 October 2009 at 08:04  
Anonymous Irredeemably Evil said...

Maybe it's time to call it a day, like we have here.

29 October 2009 at 09:14  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

I have heard Canon White speak on a number of occassions. One of the most remarkable men I have had the pleasure to meet - the fact that he has MS is just one of the many problems he overcomes with grace & humility. That he is a member of the Anglican church is even more remarkable and makes the pathetic bleatings of all the other senior Anglicans even more risible.

29 October 2009 at 09:38  
Anonymous Dick the Prick said...

Your Grace

A remarkable man and one who overwhelms me with his love and generosity of heart. I too am left tearful.

29 October 2009 at 09:42  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace,

When I read of what God has called Cannon Andrew White to: the witnessing of terrible suffering; cleaning up what is left of dead men from his pews; the patience that is required to not only negotiate with the leaders of other religions but also to confront their motivations; to phone a mother and advise that her little boy and husband won’t be coming home anymore and to stand there, on the end of the receiver, and listen to her silent scream; and minute by minute place himself on the front-line to contend for our faith and live each moment in that zone between life and death not knowing if the next bomb has his name on it – truly – none but the brave.

Here we are in this country many of us with all our needs taken care of: the tailor phones to confirm the appointment for a new suit; the mechanic delivers the motor car after its annual check up; in the office one is greeted; the secretary takes notes and fields phone calls; a student takes the dogs for a walk in one’s absence; the drive home through rolling countryside dotted by sheep; the front-door is opened and the dogs bound towards their master; a peck on the cheek; the log-fire is burning; the newspaper is handed and the cat sleeps on your lap – purring contentedly.

That – compared to our brave missionaries on the front-line just seems so trivial, empty and utterly pointless.

Next time I gaze at the stars over my little homestead; I shall think of Cannon White and wonder if he is gazing too.

29 October 2009 at 09:57  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is a crying shame that the best of the church is in a Muslim country when in our own country churches are rapidly being converted into mosques. It seems strange that people get weepy and connect with their feminine side over one church in Iraq, and have nothing to say about the situation taking place here.

There seems to be a problem in the Christian faith that likes to connect with hopless and pitiful situations which allow them to spill out their Christian guts in a Holy display of piety.

Lots of gazing going on.

29 October 2009 at 10:15  
Anonymous Martin Sewell said...


I think we need "and" not "or".

29 October 2009 at 11:28  
Blogger ultramontane grumpy old catholic said...

Iraq, Pakistan, Sudan...Christian minorities persecuted. The list goes on.
And the Christians, often being better educated have better opportunities to emigrate, so the Christian population continues to fade away.

Aid to the Church in Need has similar tales to tell.

I am deep admiration for those who can live and work under these conditions persecuted by cruel and pitiless men. Yes I will send a donation.

29 October 2009 at 12:16  
Blogger TreeSleeper said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

29 October 2009 at 13:16  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where are the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Gordon Brown, The Muslim Council of Great Britain, the BBC, the human rights industry, the UN, EU, the Anglican Bishops, to name but a few of those organisations who would have a fit if one tired soldier in Baghdad absent mindedly wandered into a mosque with his boots on. I am ashamed of our nation.

29 October 2009 at 13:34  
Blogger English Viking said...

Canon White is indeed a courageous man, one in whose shoes I would not wish to walk.

I am afraid that men like White are soon to be required in this country, their time and efforts dominated by the need to try and shore up the last vestiges of a once dominant religion which is soon to achieve minority status. When that happens, the persecution of Christians, predominately by muslims, that happens everyday in muslim countries, will be visited on this once great nation, on this once great institution, the C of E.

It's as plain as the nose on your face, If islam becomes dominant, bombs will go off in Churches.

Let's remember Canon White in our prayers, and the men and women like him, but let us not forget or fail to see the imminent danger we ourselves are in, let's not kid ourselves that it could never happen here.

29 October 2009 at 13:49  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Canon Andrew White is one of the most inspiring men I know of.

I am so glad your blog is back.

29 October 2009 at 14:28  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace,

It has been said that our best (Judaeo-Christian) missionaries seem to go to the foreign mission field whilst at home our churches are being converted to mosques (and warehouses).

This happens because this generation, our generation, in my view (and this includes myself) does not love our God with all our soul, heart and mind. This is patently obvious; from this generation there has still not emerged anyone comparable to the great preachers of the past; such as the Wesley brothers.

What we lack in love for God, we make up for with expressing the formulae of ‘clinical theology’; ‘off the cuff remarks’ (supported by quotations); streams of alarming statements ‘predicting’ what is likely to happen to our country – until we work ourselves up into quite a lather. All these tactics and stratagems are deployed before we even reflect upon what the Spirit desires us to say and how to say it.

Who now spends all his leisure time on his knees and reading the Word of God aloud for hours on end until it saturates his soul? For if there were such a man; God would surely use him to set England on fire.

The fault is ours.

29 October 2009 at 15:28  
Blogger Ginro said...

This is also a good website about Muslims that convert to Christianity in Muslim countries - Secret Believers

29 October 2009 at 16:35  
Anonymous non mouse said...

The Tree of Glory - a symbol for the Word it bore: saves us and shows us the Way. [cf especially "The Dream of the Rood."]

Let's hope we can hold on to all that in the UK and the US; for the outlook is foggy, to say the least.

PS: Been on the News at all, this story? Or not - for fear it will incite the mozzies?

29 October 2009 at 18:05  
Anonymous not a machine said...

In my prayers tonight , a very brave man , of great faith .

29 October 2009 at 18:07  
Blogger Preacher said...

Anyone who has met Andrew White cannot fail to be moved by his courage, love & humility. May God continue to bless him & keep him safe.
May God grant us the same gifts & the Holy Boldness to preach the gospel without fear in these testing times.

29 October 2009 at 21:13  
Anonymous len said...

It is quite a revelation to see the courage of Canon Andrew White who is continuing his Christian work amongst the most terrible conditions.
I pray the Lord Jesus Christ will protect him and his staff.

29 October 2009 at 23:02  
Blogger Steve Appleseed said...

I got a feeling this brother is gonna make it to heaven before me.

I just donated half a day's pay online because this brave man deserves our support.

Jesus said, couldn't have made it any clearer, 'After me will come false prophets who will lead many astray, you will know them by their works'

dont see no Christian suicide bombers

How much more do we need to know?

29 October 2009 at 23:47  
Blogger Kenpachi said...

It's a disgrace that our media will not cover the plight of such a brave man. Where is the outrage? Can you imagine how much attention this story would be getting if it were a bunch of Anglicans bombing Mosques?

30 October 2009 at 02:38  
Blogger Manfarang said...

It is tragic that the ancient Churches of the East should disappear in Iraq as a result of the 2003 invasion.

30 October 2009 at 04:17  
Anonymous Yeah Right said...

I just donated my life's wages on line (and my wife's pension), and the cat has stopped eating fresh salmon for a week.

Donations are important, especially in this modern materialistic world. I have a great idea that would benefit stories like this, while at the same time pull in huge tracts of dosh. This sort of thing:

Zimbo, a half blind five year old African orphan has to ride 7 miles a day to school with one leg on his bicycle with buckled wheels and no brakes. Give just a small donation of two pounds and we''ll send you the video, it's bloody hilarious.

30 October 2009 at 08:56  
Blogger Deborah Sanders said...

I like the joke about the cat-it made me laugh.
Then I thought, what would the cat do, if it really had a choice?
Would it; give half a day's salmon; a week's salmon; a year's salmon, or no salmon? Well,it lacks the capacity for choice-it only understands its need for food.
What about the wife?
She may or may not understand her husband's generosity with her pension! Have they talked about it?
What about the husband?
He is very generous himself but is he unkind to his wife and cat?
Maybe, if he gives what he can and looks after his wife and cat, who love him and trust him, he
is being wise and is a good man.
I am currently reading IRAQ, Searching for Hope. If we ever have a current Christendom hero to surpass and outshine the fictional and flawed secular James Bond, it is, without doubt, the Vicar of Baghdad. The coolest dude on the planet! Blessings to him, wife and children. He shows us all that Jesus is alive and well!

30 October 2009 at 12:05  
Blogger Steve Appleseed said...

Yeah Right, I expect the video of people clearing up the body parts blown through the church windows by an Islamist anti-Christ mass murderer is bloody too, whether or not its hilarious. Twice as funny as the London tube bombings if numbers are anything to go by.

30 October 2009 at 15:14  
Blogger Deborah Sanders said...

Yes, we each need to consider seriously, what we can give to help.

30 October 2009 at 20:11  

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