Hundreds of Churches and hundreds of thousands of believers in Iraq. After our first cross walk in Iraq in April (see April update) Denise and I were invited as special guests to attend "The Third Christian Conference in Iraq" 'The church in the service of peace and humanity". In Baghdad hundreds of believers and followers of Jesus gathered at the Babylon Hotel and in the large assembly hall for morning and evening sessions.
There are hundreds of churches in Iraq and hundreds of thousands of members. Every major Christian group is there; Catholics, Orthodox, Protestant, Evangelical etc. Representatives from around the world gathered to meet with the Iraq Church. There were Catholic Cardinals, Orthodox Bishops, Assembly of God, Southern Baptist, Youth for Christ, Seventh Day Adventist etc. The local young people and adults that we met were so excited about Jesus. They were also thrilled to know they were not forsaken by believers in other nations.
One of the best kept secrets is the fact that there are open churches and believers in Iraq! People from present day Iraq were present at Pentecost, just after the ascension of Jesus and were saved, filled with the Holy Spirit and returned to this land. Churches have been in Iraq for about 2,000 years! How thrilling to meet, see and touch our fellow followers of Jesus as they suffer greatly due to the inhuman 'economic embargo' on the people of Iraq. It is tragic beyond words that 'Christian Nations' are bringing such suffering and death upon fellow believers who had no choice where they were born. God have mercy on us and them!
The Secular Government in Iraq allows Freedom of Religion
Contrary to popular western opinion Iraq does not have a 'religious' government but is governed by the Ba'ath Party, a secular party. Almost 5% of the people are Christian, with about 95% split between the Muslim Shi'ites in the south and the Sunni Muslims mostly in the north.
The secular government allows all religions to worship. Should this secular government ever fall a horrible religious bloodbath could take place worse than words could describe. The government allows the churches and completely welcomed us and the cross. All Iraq police, army, security people, customs, immigration were lovely to us.
Iraq tolerance of religion is in stark contrast with the religious nation of Saudi Arabia that does not allow any churches! And yet it is supported by the West. This is another well kept secret.
One of my greatest dreams in life was to lift up the cross atop the walls of Babylon and carry it in that ancient historic city. Jesus did it! The dream came true. I know Jesus wanted the cross carried there! The Father wanted the cross raised up above Babylon. I will not seek to explain the significance of what it means but surely it is a powerful declaration for these end times! Babylon is often referred to in the Bible as the seat of Satan and is important
in 'end times' events. Consider this:
We carried the cross through the Ishtar Gate (foundation) and along the Street of Procession! The actual street is fenced off but the men escorting us told me it was O.K., an historic moment, a special exception for the cross! Since I had carried it around the world. They helped me over the fence and I carried the cross on the actual stones and its bituminous paving! Down that very street walked Daniel and Nebuchadnezzar!
Denise and I carried the cross into the 'Throne Room' of Nebuchadnezzar's Palace. We stood the cross upright over the throne! In the same room was the wall where there appeared 'the handwriting on the wall' to King Belshazzar. Daniel was called to interpret it. Part of the old wall is original with restored parts around it. We raised the cross up again the very wall where the handwriting appeared! Glory!
For hours we carried the cross through the ruins of Babylon, over the old walls and through the fallen bricks of the city.
The only large stone sculptures left is 'The Lion of Babylon'. It is 'the'symbol and we raised the cross up above it!
We walked with the cross through the lower part of Ishtar Gate where the original art work is still seen in the bricks. Certain
sections of the walls of Babylon have been restored and they did a very good job.
We carried the cross through grass and along the Euphrates River and up to an un-excavated area where you could see
the foundation ruins of the 'Tower of Babel'. All that remains is the foundation of the huge structure that rose up to the sky. It
could be the actual tower spoken of in Genesis or if not that one would have been similar.
Two Muslim men carried the cross to the mound of earth overlooking the site and lifted the cross up! It was an historic and awesome site to see. Babel that represented the supreme achievement of humanity against God now had the cross raised above its ruins! Wow! Denise and I also held the cross up and prayed.
The local people working around Babylon, all Muslims were so friendly and helpful. The local men actually carried the cross more miles than I did!
Ur of the Chaldeans
This is the city where Abraham was born and where God spoke to him!
From this place and from Abraham came three of the world's great religions;
Islam, Judaism and Christianity.
It was a long trip from Baghdad to Ur, 400 kms in hot 120+ degree temperature.
Ur is near the Kuwait border with much military defenses about it. There are
many ruins there with some restoration work.
We were so blessed to have the privilege of carrying the cross here where
God called Abraham and from where the nations of the world have been blessed!
- In the hotel where we stayed in Baghdad many of the staff wore daily their
- Jesus stickers and often requested more!
- An excited deeply committed architect has made a wonderful salvation
- video that played in the hotel lobby. It shared the gospel message and
- the exciting news that as God had first spoken to men and women from
- here (Adam, Eve, then Abraham) and then the message went out to the
- world. Now Iraq will be the center for a new revival to go out to all the world! What a stunning but glorious spirit for young man on fire for Jesus.
- A great Bible bookstore piled with gospel material was located in the hotel for the conference.
- Every Iraqi we met was lovely to us from ladies in the streets to shop owners, taxi and bus drivers to workers in the fields. Not one angry look or attitude only smiles and greetings. No one turned down a Jesus sticker, cross or gospel material.
- We visited the orphaned children at Mother Teresa's Sisters of Charity Center in Baghdad. They were doing a true ministry of love and service.
- We flew to Amman, Jordan and had a hot 120 degree trip across the 1,000 km of desert to Baghdad. At the Iraq-Jordan border the Iraqi soldiers, police and security people remembered Denise and I from the cross walk in April and were so excited and happy to see us again. Both going in and coming out we were treated as special guests. The cross was VIP in Iraq!
Pilgrim followers of Jesus,
Arthur and Denise Blessitt