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Unintended Consequences?

Today brought news that reminded me of one of the reasons I have problems with the position of just war. I heard many Christians support the war in Iraq as a just war. I never quite understood the logic, and found the war troubling on several levels. Messiah alum Eric Gephart even wrote a college paper laying out why the war in Iraq did not qualify according to the usually stated criteria. Some who argued for the war claimed that a free democratic Iraq would be more open for missions work than Saddam’s closed country. There may be more room for mission work now, I have not heard much either way on that. We can be certain that conditions have not improved. News of the mass exodus of Christians, now more persecuted than under Saddam, has been coming out for months. Today, news flashed across the world about a hostage situation and massacre at a Catholic church in Baghdad.

Did anyone realize that this would happen? I’m sure some with knowledge of the middle East must have at least foreseen this possibility. Was this the intended result? Of course not. I hope that no one would think that this was the desired outcome. I’m glad, in a way, that Bush started this war and not Obama. Someone would certainly have continued the claim that Obama is muslim (trust me, he is not) and claimed this was proof. Instead, it was Bush who led America into this war, and so I have not heard the vast outcry about the state in which our brothers and sisters in Christ find themselves. Have we succumbed to a country centered world-view to the point that we don’t realize that our allegiance ought to be more closely tied to Christians around the world than it is to others in this country. Yes, I desire those around me to join the Kingdom of God, but most of the victims today (an estimated 41 in the church alone) were already part of my family, through Christ. I grieve at the loss of their lights from Iraq.

Even more tragic is the effect this will have on the continued influence of native believers in that country. The article states that:

Grieving and afraid, Iraqi Christians said Monday they may now join what Catholic officials estimate is more than 1 million fellow worshippers who have been driven out of the country by Islamic militants since the 2003 fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime.

“It was a massacre in there,” said Raed Hadi, whose cousin was killed in the attack. “We Christians don’t have enough protection. … What shall I do now? Leave and ask for asylum?”

In an interview, Iraq’s top Catholic prelate, Chaldean Cardinal Emmanuel III Delly, encouraged the country’s remaining 1.5 million Christians to stay. …

The number of Arab Christians has plummeted across the Mideast in recent years as many seek to move to the West. The exodus has been particularly stark in Iraq, where Christians historically made up a large portion of the country’s middle class, including key jobs as doctors, engineers, intellectuals and civil servants.
A little quick math for you, if more than 1 million have left, and 1.5 million remain, that is a 40% exodus! This is crazy. Most missions experts understand the importance of an indigenous population of Christians when trying to make an impact for Christ in a country. This mass exodus cannot be good for the spread of the Kingdom in Iraq. I pray that the Spirit will empower many Christians to stay, and turn around the dark spirit that is overwhelming the Light there. I pray for the Spirit to give strength and wisdom to believers there, and to other believers around the world to have the guts to stand up for our brothers and sisters.
We need to intercede for them in prayer, but also find ways to be active in our support. For me, this blog post is a start, but I wonder what else I can do to raise awareness about the plight of this minority in Iraq. We should encourage our government, and our military, to make the protection of this group a priority. I hope that we can bring pressure to bear on the government of Iraq to put some action behind the quotes in the article about the importance of Christians in their society. While the situation looks bleak, and it is, we know that with God, all things are possible!!
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