Iraq (MNN) — Since the beginning, Jesus’ birthday has met with violence. According to Todd Nettleton with The Voice of the Martyrs, violence causes many Iraqi Christians to take drastic action: “Four out of every five Christians that lived there ten years ago is now gone–they left the country–simply because they’re not safe.”
Even attending Christmas services is dangerous: “Christians, in many cases, either have stopped having those services, or people just don’t come. The attendance is so low because the people recognize the risk of coming together to worship Jesus on His birthday.”
Nettleton says this same risk negatively influences the Gospel. “Because there are so few Christians left, there are less Christians to do ministry, to do outreach. And so, that’s been a part of what’s happened there.” Pray that this Christmas would be an opportunity for Christians to share the Prince of Peace with hostile neighbors. Pray for the courage of these Christians as they seek to please God and celebrate His gift of love.
The opposition to Christianity does not stem from the hovernment. It is mostly Muslim radicals who take action against Christian practices like Christmas. In the past, Christian students have been threatened with serious consequences if they miss school on Christmas day. Even something as simple as wearing a Santa hat could be dangerous.
As more Christians leave Iraq to avoid growing hostility, the differences between Muslims and Christians become more apparent. This is because there is less daily interaction between the two groups. Nettleton hopes that the celebration of our Savior’s birth will cause unsaved Iraqi’s to be curious about the Christmas story. To support VOM’s work in places like Iraq, click here.