Iraq (MNN) — Three bombs exploded in Christian areas of the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, as worshipers were leaving a Christmas service. According to police, the blasts killed at least 26 people and wounded 38 more, despite stepped up security efforts.
The United Nations estimates the Christmas Day bombings pushed the number of civilian deaths to 441 in December alone. The total for the year: more than 8000, indicating Iraq is enduring its deadliest violence in seven years.
The spike in turmoil could have Iraq moving up from its current position, #4, on the 2014 World Watch List of countries where persecution of Christians is most severe. Greg Musselman with Voice of the Martyrs Canada stated in October that Christians would stay through any hardships. But now? “There was a sense of optimism. But, that is really starting to change. Even those that have said ‘no matter what, we’ll stay,’ are now starting to indicate that they want to get out of there.”
Several factors have hit Christians hard. “All these attacks have just caused even more fear and just this hopelessness that is unfortunately really penetrating not only the whole country, but even the church,” says Musselman. He explains that many Muslims have come to Christ, but with the ongoing violence, “We don’t want to see the light go out in places where there’s been a long church history.”
Continue to pray for believers in Iraq, especially as the New Year approaches. Pray that they would stand strong in Christ and not give way to the fear and threats that face them.