Operation Iraq Spiritual Freedom
May 6, 2003
The battle of Iraqi was joined only weeks ago. We have sensed a burden to be a blessing to the newly liberated people of Iraq and have shared this vision with many groups of Missouri Baptist leaders and churches across the state. The response has always been extremely positive. April 15 the Executive Board of the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) voted to pursue this timely partnership. Time is of the essence to begin due to the needs created by the war, the overthrow of Saddam Hussein’s reign and the timely window of opportunity that is before us. We will bring the formal partnership relationship to the MBC at its annual meeting November 4 in St. Louis.
Just last week, I spent some time in Richmond, VA at the headquarters of our International Mission Board (IMB). We came away from those meetings with an agreement to partner in a "state-to-state" partnership in Iraq.
This may not be an easy partnership. It will not be anything like Belarus where we had existing network of Christians, churches and an in-country staff of Southern Baptist missionaries to work with. We will be going into a nation that has a miniscule population of Christians and that is not entirely friendly to the United States.
The strategies to reach Iraq center around four key words:
PRAYER – This is a partnership that everyone MUST be involved in, especially at the level of prayer! We just cannot emphasize the need for intercessory prayer strongly enough. Why? Remember, the land of Iraq is the site of the first rebellion of all of mankind against the explicit commands of God, the Tower of Babel. Throughout history this land has been seen as a spiritual stronghold for the enemy. God’s judgment is that Babylon would never be inhabited or rebuilt (Jeremiah 50:3,13,39,40; 51:26) again. Among other prayer strategies, we are going to ask our MBC churches to sponsor a monthly night-of-prayer and during that time, focus ONLY on Iraq. CNN & Fox news media should not dictate our vision for Iraq.
COMPASSION – We will provide food, family health kits and humanitarian relief all laced with the Word of God. But people can miss a meal or get sick and survive. However, people cannot miss hell if they don’t know Jesus Christ! (Romans 10:17). The purpose of humanitarian relief is so we can deliver the Living Water. We are going to immediately need groups of Missouri Baptists to follow the food boxes into Iraq and distribute them.
PARTNERSHIP – Our Missouri Baptist Convention will take on the assignment of the province (state) of Ninawa. You will recognize, when you say the name aloud, that this is the location of ancient Nineveh where Jonah preached the greatest biblical revival recorded in history (see: Jonah 3). The strategic key is the provincial capital of Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq with 1.7 million souls living there.
KERYGMA – This word symbolizes for us the need to give a proclamation of the gospel that demands a response. There are many strategic ways we will be doing this in a land that may, on the surface, seem hostile to us. We will be seeking the "people of peace" in this province, bringing them to Christ. We will be assisting business-to-business link-ups in Missouri, sharing DVDs that story the gospel, perhaps even setting up some Iraqi believers in businesses that will propagate the gospel long after our partnership has ended. Key Missouri Baptist leaders will participate in a two-week long intensive training at the IMB to prepare strategies for this.
POINT MAN – The gentleman who accompanied me to the IMB last week is our new Point Man for Partnership Missions in the MBC. His name is Michael Wilson. He has served as the volunteer partnership coordinator for the IMB in Richmond, a pastor, a State Convention president, a State Evangelism Director and most recently development officer and professor for Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Wilson will be more fully introduced to you in The Pathway in the days ahead. As you can see, he comes to us with a wonderful spiritual pilgrimage from which to lead us.
You are loved!