Yousef, the cook of Monastery Mar Mattai, his children living abroad.

Christians struggle in Iraq under war, persecution and poverty…now they face Covid-19. As for us, we are not ceasing to pray for them.  Here then are 9 important ways to pray for the church in Iraq.

1. New attacks are terrorizing the Kurdish region of Iraq. Pray for peace and stability for the families who live in these areas. Turkey has launched airstrikes and military ground operation campaigns under the code-name “Claw-Eagle”. The operation was supported by jets, helicopters, drones and artillery. According to the Turkish defence ministry they were targeting suspected rebels of the Kurdish worker’s party PKK in several regions in the north of Iraq, including the Sinjar region, homeland to the Yazidis and a region that borders Christian and Kurdish villages. The attacks caused panic among Christians. According to eyewitness most Christian families living close to the border left their houses fearing that the tensions in the region will get worse, especially when these attacks are repeatedly happening.

2. During the lockdown, because of covid-19 since mid-March, women in Iraq have suffered an increase in domestic violence. According to the last two month’s statistics from the women rights organisation in Iraq, 63% of women are been subjected to domestic violence including psychological and physical violence and sexual harassment. In Iraq there is still no implemented law against this violence to protect women. Please raise your prayers for the women in Iraq who feel weak and unprotected in their houses.

3. Before the pandemic in Iraq, the percentage of poverty was already very high. During the Covid-19 lockdown people were forced to stay at home, many of them lost their jobs. The most affected are laborers and the daily-wager’ workers. The economic situation is getting worse day by day. Please continue to remember in your prayers the people who have no income; ask God for mercy to meet their daily needs.

Relief in Iraq after Covid-19: food packages. Central storage in Erbil in warehouse from where it is distributed to several towns.

4. We count on your prayers for the families of government employees in the Kurdish region in Iraq. They haven’t received salaries for five months due to the economic and political disagreement between the central government of Iraq and the Kurdish authorities. Please ask the Lord to end the disputes between the two governments that have a direct effect on the people.

5. The Nineveh Plain, where most Christians in Iraq live, is one of the disputed areas in Iraq between the Kurdish regional government and the Iraqi government. It is located close to Mosul and about an hour by car from Erbil. Because of the spread of covid-19 in Iraq, the Kurdish region closed its borders with the rest of Iraq to limit the spread of the virus. Because of that, Christians, who are usually more orientated on the Kurdish region, are not able to reach Kurdistan. They are stuck now in their region. Because of the lack of essential services, hospitals, and medical services in the Nineveh Plain, many who suffer from chronic disease have not been able to cross the borders for medical assistance. Let’s Pray for these Christians who recently returned to their home villages; their suffering did not end.

6. Ayman was subjected to severe burns due to a gas leak in his house; surgery on his deep burns has failed and his health situation remains critical; a shortage of medical care hasn’t helped.  Please continue your prayers for the healing of Ayman and pray for many others like him who are suffering in this critical situation due to the economic difficulties and absence of a medical insurance system in Iraq. Ayman is the only breadwinner for his family; they are living in Erbil after the displacement from their house in 2014.

The family of Mathi, Nazik and Meray moving back to their house in Qaraqosh

7. Pray for believers from a Muslim background in Iraq who accepted the word of the Lord, who seek to find discipleship, and can’t declare their faith to family and friends fearing death threats. Ask the Lord to send them people they can trust to disciple them and bring them to the right way of Jesus.

8. A new bishop has been chosen for the Chaldean Catholic diocese in Zakho: Father Felix (Saeed) Dawood Al Shabi. The bishop was born in the village of Karamles. He completed his master studies in Rome. After that he was serving in St. Peter the Apostle Catholic Church in San Diego, USA. Pray that the Lord will bless his new journey and give him wisdom and strength for serving God in his homeland of Iraq.

9. The collapsed health system in Iraq is facing another catastrophe, with the rapid spread of the covid-19 virus. Hospitals in Iraq are not properly prepared due to a lack of medical equipment, pray for doctors and for persevering in their work in facing the virus. Many of them became victims of the virus themselves. Ask God to give them the strength to serve.

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