JOIN IRAQI CHRISTIANS IN PRAYER FOR NATION

Over 5,000 Iraqi Christians are expected to come together to pray and commit their nation to God at a major gathering in Erbil, Iraq on Friday (18 November).

The six-hour prayer and worship event will feature testimonies from Christians from Mosul and the surrounding villages in the Nineveh area that were taken over by ISIS in 2014. It follows the liberation of many towns and villages to the east of Mosul – including the largest Christian town of Qaraqosh – while efforts to retake Mosul itself are ongoing.

Church leaders will pray for these locations and symbolically release prayers for Iraq in the form of balloons. Taking part will be internationally-known Christian worship leaders Nizar Fares from Lebanon and Zyad Shehada from Jordan.

Maher Barbary, director of Life Agape which is organising the event, says to pray for “God’s plans for Iraq to prevail”. SAT-7 will be broadcasting the event live, both on-air and over webstream, inviting viewers across the region to unite in prayer with their Iraqi brothers and sisters. SAT-7 staff members from several offices and studios have sent short clips, with messages of support and solidarity for the displaced Iraqi Christians, that will also be shown at the event.

LONGING FOR HOME

When the Iraqi offensive to liberate the Mosul area began on 17 October, Iraqi Christians burst into celebration; dancing, singing, and praying in anticipation of being able to return to their homes. Hundreds of thousands remain displaced, most of them sheltering in the Kurdistan region.

More than two years after ISIS overran Mosul and surrounding towns – home to the largest number of Assyrian Christians in Iraq – hope was reborn that their lands would soon be liberated.

As many towns and villages were recaptured, people have started to return. Roughly-made wooden crosses were raised on church rooftops, bells were rung, and prayers said in ISIS-vandalised churches for the first time in two years.

HOW TO PRAY

After a month of liberating the Ninevah area from ISIS, how should we continue to pray for the future of Iraq?

1. GIVE THANKS

Firstly, we should give thanks with those who see their towns and citizens being freed from the repressive control of IS. Father Thabet, a priest from Mosul, told SAT-7’s Bridges program:

“It is great that the liberation comes at this time after two years have passed. But our joy will be complete when everyone is back home safe and secure.”

2. FOR SAFE RETURN AND RECONSTRUCTION

Before people can be encouraged to return, Father Thabet told SAT-7:“We need to make sure the liberation process is final, the area is secure and the path to return is safe, and we need to adjust the infrastructure and stabilise the economic situation.” It will take time and major investment to restore infrastructure, schools, medical facilities and to make battle-scarred towns habitable again.

“We need to make sure the liberation process is final, the area is secure, and the path to return is safe, and we need to adjust the infrastructure and stabilise the economic situation.”

It will take time and major investment to restore schools, medical facilities, and make battle-scarred towns habitable again.

3. REUNION OF FAMILIES AND HEALING

Iraqi civilians in ISIS-held areas have lived under tyranny for more than two years. Every aspect of life has been policed. TV reports have shown tearful reunions of family members who thought they might never see one another again.

Pray that the thousands of families splintered by war can be reunited and rebuild their lives together. Pray for counsellors to help individuals overcome the trauma they have experienced. Pray for the ministry of the Church in this area.

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