Faith Today: Is the Church in danger of extinction
andrew White: Our church in Baghdad,
come what may, will remain. Christianity
in Iraq is at risk. It really is at risk of being
literally almost nothing. We’ve gone from
one and a half million to probably 200,000
Christians, and they are all really suffering.
But, we don’t give up. It’s hard not to.
F T: You obviously found it difficult to be removed
when your bishop asked you to leave. I’m sure
you’re in constant contact with your people. But
how are you feeling now about not being there?
a W: Well, I take hope in this respect, that
so many of our people are refugees in
Jordan, and I’m looking after all of them.
I’m still with them, I’m still providing for
them. I’m still loving them. I’m still feed-
ing them. I’m still preaching to them. So,
we’ve still got them.
FT: Are there good things that can grow out of
that experience of being a church in exile?
a W: Well, there’s the assurance of knowing that despite everything God is still
with us. We start every service with the
words from the Eucharist, “The Lord is
here. His spirit is with us.” And that is
something that is so real to all of us. One
of the things you discover in this situation, when you are under threat, is that
denominations don’t matter any longer.
All that matters is that we are Christian.
FT: What message then do you want to give to
the rest of the Church?
a W: What we pray for is protection, provision, perseverance and peace. And we have
Andrew White is known as the Vicar of Baghdad. He has
served St. George’s Anglican Church in Baghdad since 1998,
offering him a frontline view of one of the most troubled
regions in the world. His foundation, The Foundation for
Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East ( www.frrme.org),
provides spiritual, medical and humanitarian care in Iraq,
and works for reconciliation in the region.
White was removed from Iraq last year because of the
increasing violence and threats against him. Much of his
congregation has fled. The plight of Iraq’s Christians drew
the world’s attention last year when reports surfaced of
children being killed – including from White’s congregation.
He was in Canada in December and met with Faith Today
to discuss the future of the Church in Iraq, why so many
miracles happen there, and why eating with your enemies
is a very good idea.