This was the day the Lord made; we rejoiced and were glad to be in this day at this place, Basrah, Iraq. This, our first full day here, was indeed full. The day was spent with members of the National Evangelical Church of Basrah, their new pastor and with the Kirkuk pastor and his wife. They shared their lives with us through updates, stories and histories of the Iraqi church. Today provided us much to ponder, pray over and proclaim that the Lord is not finished in this land. One particular insight of their life was shared today by the Kirkuk pastor: "Christians in this place have been here since the first century church. This is our land, but because we are now a minority we feel we are outsiders in our own land." Though small in number, the faith, service and steadfast hope of the Iraqi church has much to teach us eight Christians from the U.S., who can only trace Christianity in our land to the seventeenth century.
Updates on all the churches do here is mind-boggling when we consider the conditions and resources of daily life in Iraq.
- Preschools for 200 and 400 children, most of who are Muslim
- Three FM Christian radio stations
- Outreach to women in prison
- Caring for social injustices in their communities and country
These are some of the witness and service for Christ by the church here. But the most striking observation of life together here is the love of God's people for each other.
The Basrah congregation is truly one big family. After our daylong consultation our evening culminated in a bountiful family meal. The meal was not only delicious, but homemade, something most of us in the U.S.don't make time to do. The delicious food that fed our bodies was dwarfed by the unity, joy and conversation that fed our souls. Weare made tofeel we are part of this family...and we are. Thanks be to God!
The day had begun with Assis Magdy reading Psalm 133 in Arabic (of course!). As we thank God for this day, rejoicing in the privilege to be on this holy ground, we close with verse 1 of Psalm 133: "How good and pleasant it is when God's people live together in unity." We pray this comes to fruition in all the world, in places of war, strife and injustice...life together.
Love, peace and prayers from Basrah.
The Outreach Iraq Team