Christian worker requests prayer for Iraqis during run-up to June 30 handover deadline

BAGHDAD (BP)--With June 30 looming as the target date for Iraq's interim government to assume control of the country, a Christian worker with a heart for Iraqis is asking Southern Baptists to pray.

"Several Iraqi men were killed this morning in Baghdad as they left their homes to go to work for American companies," the worker said June 21. "This is a continuing effort to destabilize the government and any companies working with the coalition."

The United Nations Security Council voted unanimously June 8 in support of the plan to restore Iraqi sovereignty. The Organization of Islamic States endorsed Iraq's interim government June 15. But extremists who want to control the country -- and its vast oil reserves -- are expected to intensify their efforts to derail a peaceful transition to Iraqi democracy.

That may mean more car bombings and street murders targeting westerners and the Iraqis who are cooperating with them.

'ESPECIALLY TROUBLING'

"As we get closer to the turnover in government at the end of this month, these kinds of hostilities may happen more and more," the worker said. "The incident this morning is especially troubling to us because one of our national workers lives in the same neighborhood where the men were killed.

"Several of our workers live in areas of the city where there is constant fighting against these changes. We have been very concerned about them having to travel back and forth. Three of them have missed being in different bombings by just minutes."

Terrorist attacks now are targeting Iraqis even more than westerners -- filling Iraqi hearts with fear as June 30 approaches, the worker said.

"I asked one Iraqi if there will be big parties in the streets on the 30th," the worker said. "She replied that everyone will be happy, but no one will be out in the streets celebrating. Everyone is too afraid and will stay home.

"Pointing to her heart, she said with a big smile: 'We won't celebrate, but we'll be happy in here.'"

PRAY SPECIFICALLY

Christians who care about Iraq's people can pray very specifically as June 30 approaches, the worker said.

"Please pray for men of peace who are serving in the interim government until elections are held in January. Pray that men of peace will be elected to places of leadership and governance in Iraq who will be open to the Good News of the Gospel being declared throughout this hurting country.

"Give thanks to Jesus Christ for the many witnesses He has already placed in Iraq, such as Christian Iraqis, western workers and even believing soldiers!

"Please pray for all Christians living and working in Iraq. Ask that they will live as salt and light, loving everyone they meet selflessly in the name of Christ. Pray that each of these will be bold witnesses of Christ's love and forgiveness.

"And each time you hear a news item about Iraq, use it as a reminder to pray for the people of Iraq during this important time in their history."


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