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Special Report

By David W. Virtue, DD
June 12, 2021

Two Anglican missionaries working quietly in Iraq since 2014, say they are seeing green shoots of Christian faith in Middle East countries dominated by Islam and scarred by war.

"We've been in Iraq for seven years. Recently we moved to a larger city, the hub of discipleship activities for the region, to further spread the Gospel." The missionaries asked not to be named or location identified to protect their lives and ministry. Both missionaries hail from Texas and are under the spiritual authority of the Anglican Church in North America.

Since the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, Kurdistan, an autonomous Kurdistan region within Iraq is one of the few places that remains safe for foreign visitors. Iraqi Kurdistan is considered relatively safe to go to. However, ISIS fundamentalists are becoming increasingly active again.

Traditional Christians make up about 2% of the Iraqi Christian population. During Saddam's time there were 2,000,000+ Christians in Iraq. Today the number is approximately 130,000.

According to official research, the Christian population in Iraq has significantly decreased as a result of ISIS's invasion in other regions of Iraq. A representative of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA) specified that, over a year-and-a-half, 120,000 persons, including 100,000 Christians, arrived in the Kurdistan region, the majority of whom arrived over the course of a few days in August 2014. "We've been working with the Christian refugees from day one. The number of traditional Christians will continue to decrease sharply," not the couple, "because they're tired of the wars and instability and the economy is in shambles. They are seeking a more stable life and economic opportunities elsewhere. They're just tired."

The couple say they have been planting and coaching underground churches in Kurdistan, Iran and Syria, with amazing results and fruit. "We're making steady progress with the highly Unreached Kurds. Our network is engaging with ten Unreached People Groups here. We are at the very beginning fragile baby stages, but they are forming churches and sharing. On a recent Sunday afternoon 8 were baptized! This particular tribe has been highly resistant -- at times hostile and violent -- towards the Gospel for 150 years. We believe there are now as many underground Believers as there are surface Christians. While the number of surface Christians will continue to decline, the number of secret Christians is exploding. Don't let anyone tell you the Church in the Middle East is dying. That may be 'dramatic' but it's simply not true. It's growing. Just in a different way!"

Mercy ministries are an important expression of the Kingdom and bridge to the sharing Gospel for missionaries. "We are pushing seven years helping the Yezidi People recover from the ISIS genocide. Our Counseling Center is providing trauma care and support for 150 widows from ISIS. A number of women have been saved from suicide. And our Learning Center is teaching orphans from ISIS English, Arabic, job and other skills along with trauma care activities," the missionaries told VOL.

They recently experienced a massive fire in the UN Camp where they have helped the Yezidi People for years in their recovery from ISIS. "This was the biggest camp fire of our time here in N. Iraq. One quarter of the camp burned to the ground."

"More than 200 families lost all of the little they had. It was total disaster and more trauma. They are presently homeless and have no clothes, personal items, supplies, money, etc."

"The organizations working in camp divided up what was needed and we are responsible for food and cleaning supplies. Emergency food for a family is $25 and cleaning supplies are $15. 100% of all gifts will go to the refugees."

The couple say the situation is dire and they are working on a rapid response. People can make a donation here:
Donors can also send a check to: Or send a check to: Love for the Least, P.O. Box 15579 Colorado Springs CO 80935 Co Springs and put Camp Sandy Fire in the memo line. All L4L relief projects are tax deductible and they will even cover the wire fees themselves.

In the next few days, the couple will head back to Syria. They ask for prayers as the situation is both dangerous and complicated. "They are wide open for the Gospel. All that is needed is workers willing to go. God is moving in their brokenness. We have new Believer groups in two cities and are expanding."

The couple does not limit their ministry to the Middle East. This summer, they will be in East Africa for a month doing discipleship trainings in Kenya, Tanzania and Zanzibar.

"If you want to help and advance the Great Commission, prayer is the engine for mission," they note. "Prayer strikes the winning blow; ministry is just cleaning up the results of prayer. We hope to have 1,000 intercessors by December for the unreached in the Middle East. God is moving, we're ploughing, we just need people to pray."

You can subscribe to their Great Commission ministry at this link: https://mailchi.mp/lovefortheleast.org/newsletter.

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