Iraq’s newly-appointed leaders strengthened ties with the West, meeting ambassadors from the Netherlands and Saudi Arabia last week. Iran casts a heavy shadow over the war-torn nation, making it difficult for Iraq to gain foreign allies.

Fadi Sharaiha with MENA Leadership Center says Iraq is one more pawn for global superpowers to fight over. “It is a proxy for Iran; for Saudi, the U.S., Russia, China; everybody’s there, just like Lebanon,” he explains.

Widespread protests in late 2019 began a series of changes and political upheaval that failed to move toward any semblance of resolution until October 2022.

According to a new report from the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, the last two years of political chaos hurt believers in Iraq:

Iraq’s political crises have significantly complicated circumstances for religious minority groups and hampered the federal government’s progress in improving religious freedom conditions throughout the country for all communities, including Yazidis, Christians, and other religious minorities … the government demonstrated a lack of “real will” to address the significant and persistent challenges facing religious minorities.

Nonetheless, believers are pressing on. “Churches coming from a non-Christian background are facing a bit of a challenge, but also an opportunity,” Sharaiha says.

“Whenever we [face] a challenge in the Christian faith, it is an opportunity for the Lord to pour His grace, His Spirit out so that people will know this (overcoming the challenge) is not from our strength. It is from the Holy Spirit.”

MLC courses help believers overcome challenges of every kind. More about that here. For example, authorities forced one Kurdish church in northern Iraq to close down.

“At the same time – it’s very interesting – they were taking a course with us on religious freedom. We were praying for them and giving them some tips, and by the end [of the course], the Lord responded, and they reopened the church,” Sharaiha says.

Ask the Lord to protect His followers in Iraq. Pray for God’s healing, provision, and restoration.


This story originally appeared at Mission Network News and is republished here with permission.