We are pleased to report that Rev. El Shafie and his delegation have returned safely from a successful mission to Iraq. During this mission the delegation discussed the threats facing Iraqi minorities with high-level government officials including the Vice-President, the Deputy Prime Minister, the President of Parliament (equivalent to our Speaker of the House), the Minister of Human Rights, the Minister of the Environment, senior Foreign Affairs officials, and others. With a Canadian member of parliament and senator along as observers on our delegation, this was the highest-level Canadian visit to Iraq since the war.
Rev. El Shafie also visited Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad and spoke with and encouraged victims shaken by recent attacks on their communities. Our Lady of Salvation Church was the target of a hostage-taking in which more than 50 people were killed over several hours during Sunday mass on October 31, 2010. Despite some calming of the overall security situation in Iraq, minorities continue to be threatened as evidenced by the attacks that took place last month against churches in Kirkuk which we mentioned in a recent alert.
Approximately 50% of Iraqi Christians have fled as refugees to neighbouring countries and other destinations since the American-led invasion. The Mandaean community is even harder hit with only about 10% of their people remaining in Iraq. Like many Iraqis, Christians and other minorities have fled the violence associated with the invasion and ensuing insurgency but those who remain face further danger… Their churches and communities have been targeted specifically by bombs, kidnappings, and threats, including threats to either convert to Islam, leave, or be killed. Authorities make a show of responding when an attack is too scandalous to ignore, but Iraqi minorities point to indications that the authorities themselves are often complicit in these attacks.
Our delegation has returned but this mission is not over as Rev. El Shafie will be bringing the plight of Iraqi minorities to the attention of Canadians and Americans and our decision-makers in the weeks to come. In the meantime, OFWI has significant outstanding expenses from this mission and we need your help urgently. If you are able, please help shoulder part of the financial burden of this mission and send your special contribution today. As you know, OFWI is fully supported through the contributions of our friends and members without whose support none of our work would be possible. We regret that OFWI is not able to issue tax receipts for your donations; however, US residents wishing to make a significant donation and requiring a tax receipt can contact us at info@
Thank you for your faithful support for the work of OFWI through your prayers and financial contributions. Without your support on both levels we would not be able to do what we do, so please stand with us as we stand with the people of Iraq who deserve to live in peace, freedom, and equality regardless of their religious beliefs.
• for the besieged Iraqi Christian community and other minorities, that they would remain strong, steadfast, and faithful in the midst of the great trials and dangers they face daily;
• for the Iraqi people in general, that they would be able to put aside their differences and work together to re-build their country after decades of war and oppression and that they would find true peace in the Prince of Peace; and,
• for Iraqi authorities, that they would govern their country with truth, justice, and righteousness, and guarantee for the Iraqi people the freedom to seek and worship God in freedom and in accordance with their conscience.
Remember that the persecuted Christians are dying every day, but they are still smiling. They are in a very deep dark night, but they have the candle of the Lord. The enemy can have a very strong weapon and a very strong army, but we have the Lord Almighty.
"They can kill the dreamer, but they cannot kill the dream" in the Lord’s name.
Be with God and may God be with you.