Iraq: steeped in religion, stooped by deceit
August 27, 2003
A people steeped in religion and stooped by deceit. I recently had the privilege of traveling with David Clippard, Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) executive director; Roy Spannagel, MBC associate executive director; and Ralph Sawyer, pastor, First Baptist Church, Wentzville, to the country of Iraq. Iraq is still classified as a war zone. In many ways it still has the earmarks of war: coalition troops extremely visible, Apache helicopters on constant surveillance, wide-spread damage to precision-targeted buildings, a temporary U.S. administered government, destroyed Iraqi weapons of war, orphans living on the street and an internal infra-structure in shambles. This list could go on.
The needs are great. But one need stands out above all the rest. There are approximately 25 million people living in Iraq. A high percentage is of the Muslim faith. These are people steeped in religion, but they are stooped by deceit. Their greatest need is to know the Truth so the Truth might set them free.
God touched Dave Clippard’s heart to have a partnership vision with the International Mission Board (IMB) for this country, asking God to use this unique moment of history for the declaration of the Gospel. The objective is to bring about true Iraqi freedom. I want to encourage Missouri Baptists to follow our executive director’s leadership and walk through these open doors with God’s help, for God’s glory.
The means to the end: prayer. We needed prayer for our trip. We sensed your prayers.
I am confident that thousands of Missouri Baptists and beyond were praying for our vision and fact-finding trip. We are grateful for your prayer partnership on our behalf. It worked! Now we must continue our concentrated prayer effort to beseech God to bring about an end-time revival as profoundly as He did in Jonah’s day.
God’s favor was obvious. We sensed God’s favor in every area of our trip: His protection for our safety, the unity of our team, the expertise of the IMB missionaries traveling with us, transportation details, favor with military personnel, meeting local people engaged in ministry, people adept at language translation, seeing and assessing how the MBC can help meet needs, potential funding resources. God’s favor was granted and is desperately needed in the days ahead. As the Psalmist declares: "Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it."
A breech in the wall. Consider the factors: one of the most influential and wealthy countries in the Islamic world; set free from wicked tyrannical dictatorship; now under U.S. controlled government direction; receiving millions of dollars in humanitarian aid from around the world; being befriended by God’s people with a caring, loving, ministering attitude; for the first time in 40 years a free media potential (i.e., video, satellite, CDs, print, etc.); an open door for missionaries and mission trips. In the fullness of time God sent forth His Son. Now in the fullness of time God has opened a door that no man could open.
A window of opportunity. We dare not fiddle while Rome burns. Missouri Baptists have an awesome opportunity to eternally affect a massive segment of the world through the open window of this influential Islamic stronghold.
Prayer, people, provision. All Missouri Baptists need to get on board. We all can pray — and pray we must.
Over the next few months and years you will be asked to travel to Iraq for a mission trip. Begin praying about that possibility now. There are a variety of needs. Will God use you to help meet those needs?
Missouri Baptists are resourceful people. God may have chosen you to help provide a means for the Gospel of Christ to be shared with a people-group for whom Christ died.