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t this time, the Iraqi people labor very hard for their freedom and democracy. The enemy of

righteousness tries to dispel these efforts by planting havoc and hatred. In the midst of these circumstances a small seed grew to be a big tree planted by the streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. The First Baptist Church of Baghdad has demonstrated the love of Christ since its dedication in January 2004. Up to today, 401 people have been baptized, and many more have acknowledged Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. The one seed in Baghdad expanded to reach the city of Nineveh and other cities within the Province of Kurdistan. About 52,000 Bibles have been distributed in Iraq over the last six years thru the Baptist Publication (Dar Manhal Al-Hayat). This year has been a challenge. There was a lot of persecution but a lot of

blessings as well. The Lord enabled us to start a kindergarten in the same facility as the church. The purpose is to be a channel of evangelism in our neighborhood, as well as to provide job opportunities to some of the church members. Two young men were sent to the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary in Lebanon, and another is preparing his papers to go this year. We established a new ministry to reach the children of the orphanages. Three young ladies from the church in Baghdad received training in Lebanon and Brazil to help the Iraqi orphans. Unfortunately, early this year, an 18-wheel trailer exploded less than half a mile from the church building in Baghdad, causing damage to a large part of the ceiling in the sanctuary. None of the kindergarten children or teachers was injured. Two of our church planters in

Nineveh and Zakho had to flee the country for their lives. A brother from the same church in Zakho is leading in the work there. We send leaders from our church in Baghdad on a regular

basis to encourage and spiritually feed the brothers in Nineveh. God has put a vision in our hearts to plant a church in Erbil, which is the capital city of the province of Kurdistan. There are a lot of families from Baghdad and Mosul who have relocated to Erbil seeking refuge and safety. In Baghdad, we are dealing with the

problem of immigration due to the per- secution against the Christians. Of the original members who affiliated with us since 2004, 75 percent have left the country for good. But at the same time, people come to faith and join the church regularly. Three evangelical churches in Baghdad that are not Baptist closed their doors in the last two years after their leaders left the country. As of February of this year, seven churches had been attacked by the terrorists. Five of these churches are in Baghdad, and the other two are in Mosul. But with all this, the Lord is still providing protec- tion and saving the souls of the people. Therefore we are being confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in us will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ. Finally, the challenge is big, but the harvest is bigger! I urge you to be prayer partners with us for His ministry in Iraq. n n theGLEANER 21

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