Date: June 16, 2020
Iraq (MNN) — As Iraq battles COVID-19 along with the rest of the world, ISIS continues to cause trouble in the northern regions of the country.
The outbreak of COVID-19 has changed Iraqi life in several ways, says Samuel of Redemptive Stories. Cases have skyrocketed in recent days, and the country now has over 20,000 official cases. The government has instituted lockdowns, curfews, and vehicle restrictions. “Arabs are riding bicycles a lot more,” Samuel says, “which has never been part of our culture in any way, shape, or form.”
On top of the pandemic, Iraq still has to deal with violence from ISIS. Samuel says, “I think that ISIS, like the rest of us, is using technology in a new and fresh way. They are using Zoom, they are using the same means by which we communicate to have private conversations and meetings. They’re doing the same thing. And they’ve learned to adapt.”
But the Church is adapting too
Samuel describes the Church in Iraq as “surviving,” before the pandemic, but interaction with social media has made a lot of impact in the country. “One pastor that we spoke to recently has 10,000 people that watch his live service every week. His church only has [between] 300-500 people.”
Many in Iraq had hoped ISIS was largely defeated. But Samuel says the ideology behind ISIS still haunts the country. “Getting rid of ISIS or getting rid of Islamic fundamentalism, it can’t be fought with rockets and bullets and bombs. It has to be fought with the Gospel, and with education and transformation. And that’s why we need our partners on the ground so much. The churches, the believers that have stayed back can continue to be little colonies of hope for transformation in Iraq.”
With movement restricted, the proclamation of the Gospel has actually been freer. Pray that the Church’s interaction with social media will kickstart a Gospel movement in the country. Only that can break the power of ISIS.
Samuel encourages Christians to follow Iraqi churches on Facebook in order to pray knowledgeably and be a part of the online Gospel expansion. And stay informed about what is happening in Iraq, because Christ is working powerfully in the country.
The flag of ISIS. (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)