By Gary ScaranoTo see more interviews, please go to www.ReachOUT.tv and click on Show Times on the left for broadcast times in your area. You may also watch onlineChristians Shot, Beheaded, Crucified, and Churches Boomed in Iraq
Stephen Messick on Patroll in Iraq
Pictures of Church Bombings In May 2004, ReachOUT.tv completed an interview with John Bucher, former head of the Communication Department at Nyack College. He was back from Iraq with video we broadcasted on our TV show (www.ReachOUT.org/johnbucher). The report told a positive story about “Jesus is the Light of the World Church” in Baghdad. Unfortunately, things have gotten the very bad. It is the worst time for Christians in Iraq for 100 years! There have been church bombings, shootings, beheadings, and crucifixions of Christians in Iraq. Despite three years of intense persecution there is a lack of awareness among America Christians and hardly any coverage from the media until recently. 60-Minutes, a CBS TV show, did a report on December 2, 2007, showing how all Baghdad churches and entire Christian neighborhoods have been abandoned. That many Christians are now refugees; and how the church has gone underground. Go to http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/11/29/60minutes/main3553612.shtml to see the video. Gary recently caught up with Rev. Sergeant Stephen Messick. He served in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 & 2004. He was stationed in Baghdad and a Chaplin’s assistant, is an ordained minister and is attending Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has visited with refugees in the surrounding countries and is the author of two books The Words of Jesus in the Original Aramaic; and Treasures of the Language of Jesus.
Gary: What was your experience in Iraq.
Stephen Missick: I was deployed to Baghdad at the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom. While there, I was interfaced with Iraqi Christians, and although there was some violence against Christians, it was not widespread. It seemed Christians and Muslims were getting along.
GS: What happen?
SM: At the end of 2004, violence against Christians erupted. I went back and visited with some Christian refugees in Syria.
GS: What triggered this?
SM: I believed foreign Islamic radicals backed by al-Qaeda went in to implement Islamic law. Insurgent’s targeted Christians. Sending threatening letters, bombing churches, and murdering them. There have been decapitations and crucifixions. In the city of Mosul, they randomly took Christians young men and decapitated them. In 2007, right after services in The Holy Ghost Church, the Pastor and two deacons were shot and killed by Muslim extremists. There is the story about a 14-year-old Assyrian Christian named Ayad. At work, insurgents asked for his ID, which has your religion on it. The insurgents asked, “Are you a Christian sinner." He replied, "…I am Christian, but I am not a sinner.” The insurgents beheaded him right there.
GS: You have been in contact with Christians in Iraq since the 60-minute report.
SM: Yes, people are afraid to go to church service. It’s dangerous and they could be shot. There is constant a treat of violence. Some have received threatening messages from extremist Muslims saying if they don’t convert, they will be killed.
GS: Under Saddam Hussein, Christians seem to live without the treat of violence…
SM: He was a terrible dictator, but he did not persecute Christians. With Saddam removed, there is no one left to stop the violence. Even though Christians have been there for hundreds of years, there are those who want the country to be only Islamic and want Christians removed.
GS: The 60-Minute report mentioned Christians do not want the Military’s protection, since they were concerned about being viewed as collaborating with the enemy.
SM: I’ve asked my friends in Iraq and they tell me this is not true, All Iraqi’s want the violence to end and to be protected. Churches are closed down and there are hundreds of thousands of refuges in Jordan, Syria and northern Iraq. They’ve lost their homes and all they have is the cloths on their back. This is a difficult time for Christians in Iraq.
GS: What can we do here in America?
SM: We need to get the word out; to pray; and write to our elective representatives to express our concern about this religious genocide and to help the refugees. There are also organizations like the www.BarnabusFund.org. They provide basic services to refugees. Before the war there was about 1 million Christians in Iraq. About half have had to flee. I believe in the power of prayer, so please pray for the Christians in Iraq surrounding countries.
Some facts and pictures were provided with permission by Assyrian International News Agency www.aina.org
For more information, go to www.ReachOUT.tv or www.ROCC.tv, email info@ReachOUT.org.
Broadcast via cable into 3.7 million homes in the NY Metro area. ReachOUT…He is not Far…
“Jesus is the Light of the World” Church