Interview with an Iraqi Pastor
Follow-up to an interview between Joel C. Rosenberg, Founder and Chairman of The Joshua Fund, and an Iraqi Pastor as they discussed the grave situation facing Iraqi Christians and how we can pray for and support them.
The Joshua Fund (TJF): What are you seeing happening in Iraq today and to believers in Jesus Christ in particular?
Pastor G: The Lord is really moving. God is touching people’s hearts. These are wonderful days actually.
In the beginning it was very bad and we didn’t know what to do. When we began to do some evangelistic campaigns, many people started to come. But when we saw all the salvations, it’s totally something different. It’s like God is turning all the curse into a blessing. We are seeing a harvest and the fruit of tears and prayers.
Recently we held an evangelistic campaign. We sent a bus to collect people who wanted to come to the church. After this message, the whole church came forward to give their life to Jesus.
At another outreach, that was 3 days long, over 4000 people came. 3000 of them prayed to receive Jesus. I don’t know exactly what happened in their hearts but when the speaker asked “do you want to receive Jesus?” they raised their hand.
Even the Chaldean Syrian channel came and broadcast it on tv. Since it’s a satellite channel a lot of people inside and outside of Iraq saw it.
TJF: Some believers have had to leave the country of Iraq, but you have felt the call to stay, what are the conditions you and your congregation are facing?
Pastor G: Yes, a lot of people are leaving the country. This is now the fourth week we distributed coupons for people to get food supplies from the local supermarket. Each week we have 500 families to distribute to, but only 400 are coming. So 20% leave Iraq each week.
But, even if they leave Iraq Jesus is in their heart. I don’t believe in planting churches but I do believe in planting Jesus in their hearts.
TJF: Since the last time we heard from you in August of 2014, many have asked how you are doing and what are the major challenges facing ministry leaders and congregations in Iraq?
Pastor G: Within the refugees, we found some capable leaders and they are ministering. We are trying to encourage and disciple them, but we don’t have time for in depth teaching.
God is sending people who are faithful and love to worship. The prayer movement is very strong right now in the church. We have a daily prayer meeting in the morning and sometimes at night too.
One U.S. organization sent 2 guys to minister. One of them offered to teach worship on the keyboard. We thought maybe we’d have 10 people sign up, but we had 50 people register - all ages. So now we have classes during the week for musical instruments.
TJF: Many of The Joshua Fund team and prayer partners have been praying for you and the believers in Iraq, how can we be praying today and the coming months?
Pastor G: Pray for Brother N. He was visiting each of the caravans where the refugees are. He would go in and pray with each family. One woman, who came to church because of him said, “When Brother N is praying, something is happening and we feel at peace.” Recently, he had a stroke and had to go to the hospital. But, he is stable and he should get out soon. Pray for him and his family.
Pray for Brother F & Brother W (whose wife is sick). They go to visit people in the church. They have visited 1300 families in their homes.
We could use more audio Bibles. There are always people in need of these. We can distribute them easily and people like to have them. We could use at least 3000.
We are attempting to open a school, but even when we do everything the Minister of Interior and Minister of Education tell us, the municipality stops us. Because they are afraid of the evangelical church. We have a good name with the help of the Ministry, but the municipality doesn’t want that to continue.
Also, we have a lot of people coming to the church, and they are willing to minister but they don’t have work. They are doing nothing, they are just coming to the church. I feel like after a while we have to find something for them to do. Maybe a project, where they can be fruitful. Staying without work for 6 months is killing them. And we don’t know what to do. How to help them. We are praying for opportunities for them. Not just ministering. These people are giving their time but still, they need work to buy food and supplies for their children. Even as refugees many of them pay rent.
At the church, the work is huge. We cannot follow up with all these people. We need laborers.
TJF: We consider it a great honor to be standing with you, how can we pray specifically for you and your family?
Pastor G: Pray for our protection. For sure, the evil spirit is not happy with what we are doing. He is attacking the ministers, the servants in the church. And our family, we face some difficulties. I feel like the Holy Spirit is with us, but the devil is against what we are doing very strongly. Sometimes I feel weak and we need strength from the Lord.
Sometimes to be honest with you, we get tired when we think about the future for our children. When my wife goes to work and she hears all the negative things, it is hard. But, I am encouraged by talking to you. May the Lord bless you.