Missouri Baptist team’s mission trip help build momentum in Iraqi partnership
By Allen Palmeri
January 20, 2004
JEFFERSON CITY – When Roy Spannagel, Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) associate director, returned in December from his second trip to Iraq , he took note of a change in the war-torn nation.
On the first trip, in the summer, he saw no women out walking in public. On the second trip he saw several women out and about.
“This simply says that Iraq is changing," Spannagel said, noting that it means that Iraqis are enjoying more freedom and less fear these days.
“One of the biggest issues that the Iraqi people deal with is a spirit of fear. They are afraid to travel from village to village. They just live under this dark umbrella of fear. I’m so glad that the Lord Jesus came to set us free from the fear and darkness. We’re just praying that the light of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus would begin to reign in this very dark country of Iraq ."
Spannagel and three other Missouri Baptists traveled to Iraq in December to pass out food and Arabic Bibles. The group distributed 184 bags of food to people in the Kurdish village of Malagara . They also prayed over an International Mission Board couple in Iraq .
“I would ask you to be praying with this couple about exactly where God would have them settle," Spannagel said. “We do know it will be in the northern part of Iraq . We just don’t know the exact location."
Uncertainties and slow progress in the spread of the Gospel have been the norm for the Missouri-Iraq partnership. The word from Spannagel’s office has been “patience." That continues to be the word, though the partnership is poised to do even more with a team set to go in February and another in March.
“Our patience has not been to keep Missouri Baptists from going to Iraq , but our patience has simply been trying to make sure people and processes were in place so that when Missouri Baptists do go, they will get the very best mission experience," Spannagel said. “It’s our heart’s desire that many more Missouri Baptists will go to Iraq and participate with our mission teams and that this will be a multiplication process as it grows through the years."
Iraq now has its first Baptist church. The National Evangelical Baptist Church of Baghdad was dedicated in January and signals that Southern Baptists are moving into a new stage of mission work in the war-torn country.
“Iraq did not get into the condition that it is in overnight, and we’re not going to be able to change it overnight," Spannagel said. “We’re looking for a consistent process that’s going to help Iraq move toward a relationship with our Lord."