To celebrate Easter as a Christian in Baghdad, Dr. Sameera Giris has to sneak onto a bus leaving from a secret location, walk through a bottleneck of razor wire, and undergo a body and property search by an armed officer protecting the Evangelical Protestant Church. Even her Bible is checked to ensure that it isn't a hollowed-out casing for a bomb.
"In Baghdad you pray watched over by Kalashnikovs, not angels,"she says
with a shrug of her shoulders.
Everyone wishing to celebrate Easter and attend church services knows that they risk their lives in Muslim nations, where the penalty for evepossessingng a Bible can be death. One of Dr. Girisneighbor'srs and co-workers was shot on his front doorstep foorganizingng the ten-mile bus rides to church on Easter.
Not surprisingly, the MSM has failed to report that in the last eight months, ten churches iBaghdadad have been bombed on Sunday services. The terrorist activity is being carried out by "insurgents", as the media calls them.
The pastecoloreded stained glass windows have been shattered by a
bomb and replaced. Christians abroad pump money to their fellow
believers in Iraq. But he shakes his head at the ugly barricades and
barbed wire disfiguring the front of his church. He is uncomfortable
about having armed men on the premises but describes it as "a necessary
evil". Last year police disarmed a suicide bomber outside.
But Pastor Ikram says that in recent weeks Baghdad's shrinking Christian
community has enjoyed a respite; the Shia and Sunni communities have
been too engaged in annihilating one another to bother about Christians.
It is a relative calm. He has buried ten of his congregation in the past few
months, all victims of violence, and watched many more abandon
Baghdad for good.
The Pastor sent his wife and three daughters out of the country for their own safety, yet stays behind to minister.
We should all be grateful that we live in a country where we can get out of bed tomorrow, enjoy a nice breakfast and know that unless some freak accident happens, we will go to church and come home safely. There are no roadside bombers waiting to kill us for our faith, and we must remain vigilant to keep it that way.
Let's keep these brothers and sisters in our prayers this weekend especially!