Iraqi Christians might sound like an oxymoron at first, because Iraq is known as a Muslim country where it is illegal to proselytize. However, it might be surprising to know that Iraqi Christians are considered to be one of the oldest continuous Christian communities in the world.
In our book, GENOCIDE IN THE DESERT, we share the story of Iraq in ways that you have never heard before. The church in Iraq is growing and it feels that the time has come for the church to finally break free from the slavery of Islam.
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At first glance, it would seem that Iraq’s Christians are living in the wrong country. They should have never tried to settle in a Muslim country. Why would they want to be in a country that does not want them anyway? Why don’t they just leave?
But the truth is, Christianity in Iraq predates Islam. The details of this are revealed in GENOCIDE IN THE DESERT. Christians have been there since the days of the disciples. It is not Christianity that does not belong in Iraq. It is Islam that does not belong.
The Christian churches in Iraq were founded by the very individuals who sat at the feet of Jesus. Iraq’s Christians are hardly a lonely tribe of people who ventured into the wrong country. Their churches date back to the first century, when two of Jesus’ disciples—St. Thomas and St. Thaddeus—preached the Gospel in what was then Assyria.
There has been a Christian community in Iraq since the beginning of the Gospel message itself. The heartland of the Christian community in Iraq has always been in Mosul and the Nineveh Plain. Their numbers swelled as Christians from other parts of Iraq, like Basra and Baghdad, sought refuge there.
Many of the ancient Christian communities in Iraq still speak Aramaic, the same language Jesus spoke. However, these Christian communities that have lasted more than two thousand years are quickly becoming extinct. They are the last of their kind and are an endangered species. Once they are gone, their language, customs, and historical heritage will be gone forever.
Today, there are less than 300,000 Christians left in Iraq—less than a third of what there was in 2002. Many of the Christians in Iraq have been murdered, enslaved, or have fled. According to Rome Reports, 120,000 Christians were forced to convert to Islam, and in five years, there will be no more Christians left in Iraq. This kind of persecution against Middle Eastern Christians is not new.
Persecution against Christians did not start with the invasion of ISIS in 2014. It is only the latest trial to befall believers living in Iraq. Christians have been threatened by Baghdad’s death squads and bombings. Christian leaders have been kidnapped in the middle of the night—often never being heard from again.
The international invasion of Iraq in 2003 was supposed to bring freedom to the Iraqis, but Christians continued to be persecuted. Church attacks and bombings actually became more prominent after the toppling of Saddam Hussein.
Islam was not able to defeat Christianity in Iraq. Saddam Hussein could not do it. ISIS has been unable to remove Jesus from Iraq. Today, He is alive in one of the most ancient lands in the world.
NOTE: All of the references in this article can be found in PART I of GENOCIDE IN THE DESERT.