Ara Badalian in Iraq

Dear Friends,

This week, please join us in interceding for Ara Badalian in Iraq.

Established in 1958, the Republic of Iraq was ruled by the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party until the US-led invasion in 2003. Although US combat troops withdrew from the country in 2011, the Iraqi insurgency persisted and joined forces with fighters from neighboring Syria. In 2014, one of the groups, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), seized significant territory in northern and western Iraq, displacing hundreds of thousands of people. Although Iraq declared victory over ISIS in 2017, ongoing civil unrest, government corruption, and unemployment continue to threaten Iraq’s 38 million people (64% Shia Muslim, 31% Sunni Muslim, and 1% Christian).

Ara is pursuing a PhD in Theology through Asia Graduate School of Theology in Malaysia. His research focuses on Christian-Muslim dialogue in Iraqi history. While working on his dissertation, Ara also serves as Senior Pastor of the National Evangelical Baptist Church of Baghdad in Iraq and Visiting Lecturer at Arab Baptist Theological Seminary (a client school of the Vital SustainAbility Initiative) in Beirut, Lebanon.    
 
In 2015, Ara’s church received a grant from SCHOLARLEADERS to help care for 600 families that had been displaced from northern Iraq by ISIS. In addition to meeting immediate needs for food and clothing, the church expanded its kindergarten, a key outreach ministry to refugee families in the city. Bible Study Magazine highlighted Ara’s ministry in Baghdad in a 2016 feature. Check out Ara’s 2015 InSights Perspective, A Wounded Memory: The Church in Iraq Today. Ara and his wife Noora have a young daughter, Aylin.   
 
Ara shares the following message:

Greetings. Thanks for praying for us according our needs and situation.

We are under a partial lockdown from 5pm until 5am daily. Typically crowded places like restaurants, malls, churches, and mosques are completely closed until permission from the government. 

Actually, it has not been easy to stop Sunday worship meetings and all gatherings in our church building. We had to cancel our Holy Week and Easter services in the spring. This has especially challenged traditional Christian communities, especially those with their own liturgies and rituals.

Pastors of Evangelical churches have been trying to preach the message of the Gospel online. Since early March, we have recorded and posted sermons online on our church’s Facebook page. We use the Internet and social media to stay in contact with the congregation through online groups and Sunday school meetings. 

Prayer Requests

1.  Pray for the Lord’s protection over the people of Iraq amid this difficult health situation.

2. Pray for the Lord to console the families of victims.

3. Pray for encouragement as churches change their approach of reaching people to using the Internet and social media.

4. Pray for wisdom for politicians, the new Prime Minister, and the new government, so they can help Iraq attain political and financial stability, especially in these difficult times with COVID-19 and decreasing international oil prices.

5. Pray for my research. I hope to finish a draft of the second chapter of my dissertation soon. It will focus on how select Syriac church fathers understand humanity as the image of God.

6. Concerning Lebanon, I’d like to add a prayer for the people of Beirut, especially for those who have lost family members in the explosions, those who are injured, and those who have lost their homes. I’m praying in Jesus’ name for God’s condolence, protection, and healing, for the people and the country, in these troubled times.

Appreciate your prayers,

Ara Badalian

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