Area: 438,317 sq km
Fertile plains of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers; high mountains to the north and Syrian desert in southwest. Site of the ancient Sumerian, Assyrian and Babylonian Empires.
Population: 31,466,698 Annual Growth: 2.19%
Official language: Arabic; Kurdish Languages: 26 All languages
Largest Religion: Muslim
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The emergence of Iraqi Arab evangelicals in recent years is an answer to prayer. During Husseins rule, there were a few hundred; now there are an estimated 53,000 in the country. Many of them come from Muslim backgrounds but have encountered Christ through evangelical witness, gospel radio and especially through dreams and visions of Jesus. They are obvious targets for persecution.
Iraqs future remains uncertain. Saddam Husseins dictatorship was removed, but a host of problems still plagues the country. Pray for:
a) The establishment of a national government that fairly balances the conflicting expectations of the various religious and ethnic communities, and provides an environment that promotes accountability to the people, economic growth and religious freedom. Without these, the future is bleak. Anarchy, civil war, fragmentation of the country and further suffering for the people especially Christians could follow. Pray therefore for anointed national leaders who can act with wisdom, courage and integrity.
b) Healing after decades of suffering. Nearly every person bears some scars of traumatic experiences from Husseins cruelty, from the US-led invasions or from the sectarian violence that has followed. Only the gospel can provide a full solution; pray that this may be freely proclaimed.
c) The elimination of corruption. Iraq is ranked as one of the worlds most corrupt nations. This has significantly held back the nation from repairing damage and achieving development.
d) The suffering the Iraqi people have endured. The number of lives lost as a result of invasions, insurgencies and deprivation may be as high as 600,000, with nearly two million people displaced. More than half of the population live in poverty.
i Women suffer forced marriage, abduction, honour killing, violence and rape, used as a threat and weapon against them. They have almost no recourse to legal protection, and the religious establishment does little or nothing to protect them.
ii Children live in a context of instability and uncertainty. Many do not attend school, less than half have access to safe drinking water and some even face malnourishment. Hundreds of thousands face life as refugees in neighbouring, and often unwelcoming, countries.
For an additional 9 Challenges for Prayer see Operation World book, CD-ROM, or DVD-ROM.
The Operation World book, CD-ROM, and DVD-ROM provide far more information and fuel for prayer for the people of Iraq.