AMMAN, Jordan (BP)–War in Iraq has created a pivotal time in history for evangelical Christians and they must not miss this chance to mightily represent God’s love, a leader of Southern Baptist work in the Middle East says.
“American soldiers are dying to assure the political freedom of Iraq. As a Christian, I must ask myself, What am I willing to do for Iraq’s spiritual freedom?” said John Brady, who directs Southern Baptists’ work across the troubled region through their International Mission Board, based in Richmond, Va.
Southern Baptist workers were among the first groups to set up a ministry program for refugees in Jordan near the Iraqi border as the war began. But Brady and other IMB workers have called for Southern Baptists to launch a major, long-term ministry effort to help heal the tremendous needs that will be prevalent long after the war’s end.
Brady was interviewed as he visited Southern Baptist workers in the region, where he has lived and worked for 10 years.
REAL PEACE FOR IRAQ
“We must respond with a cup of cold water in Christ’s name and we must let the Iraqi people see Jesus in us so plainly that they will never thirst again,” Brady said. “Even after the war is over, the Iraqi people will not know real peace unless they have God’s peace within their hearts.
“Neither the United Nations, nor armies nor governments can deliver God’s kind of peace. To really change a nation you must change its people from the inside out.
“The churches must realize this is a pivotal moment in history, a unique opportunity to share with a people we have prayed for a long time,” Brady said. “We must ask God what we as His followers should feel and think and do about the Iraqi people.”
Brady compared Iraq with Japan after World War II, when few Christians responded to a window of opportunity — and today Japan is largely a secular nation, less than 1 percent Christian.
“Southern Baptists must count the cost of responding to Iraq, but we must equally consider the huge cost of doing nothing,” Brady said, “because in today’s ever-smaller world we have seen how events far from America can impact us quickly at home.”
Brady reminded Southern Baptists that the city of Nineveh, which God called to repentance through Jonah, is now the city of Mosul in northern Iraq. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego survived the fiery furnace of King Nebuchadnezzar in what is today central Iraq.
“Surely God can work here again as He did then!” Brady said.
“Southern Baptists must ask themselves if they are willing to commit themselves to long-term, concentrated prayer for the Iraqi people,” he said. “Are we willing to put more of our money into church collection plates to help this happen? Are we willing to send workers or go ourselves?
“If we know the heart of God, we surely know the will of God on the question of Iraq.”
— VIDEO: ‘REAL PEACE IN IRAQ’
— Pray for Iraq’s people: www.imb.org/CompassionNet
— IMB challenging churches to send ‘love gift’ to hungry Iraqis:
— Contribute to relief efforts online. Every dollar given goes 100 percent to relief ministries: resources.imb.org/index.cfm/fa/prod/ProdID/961.htm.
— For more information on Iraq relief efforts: www.imb.org/worldhunger
— Ready to serve? going.imb.org/vim/main/ready_to_serve.asp
— More Iraq news reports: www.imb.org/urgent.
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: IRAQI’S UNCERTAINTY.