Georges Hormis Sada was an air vice marshal in Saddam Hussein's military. By any standard, he was a success. His son became a doctor in the United Kingdom. His daughter is a teacher in Jordan. With a monthly salary of 1,000 Iraqi dinars—worth $3,300—he had a bank account worth over $3 million. "It was a great life," he says.
In a country that is 96 percent Muslim, Sada is a Presbyterian. Now retired, he is the president of the National Presbyterian Church in Baghdad and chairman of the Assembly of Evangelical Presbyterian Churches-Iraq.
Nearly two decades of war, crushing United Nations sanctions, and a regime willing to let its people suffer rather than comply with U.N. resolutions about its weapons programs have all contributed to the deaths of at least 1 million Iraqis. During this time, currency devaluation has shriveled Sada's bank account to the equivalent of $500.
Yet Sada, 62, deflects talk of leaving the country (although about one-third of the country's Christians emigrated during the 1990s). "We are praying very hard," Sada told Christianity Today by telephone during a visit to the United Kingdom. "We know that one day our Lord will make it better."
Marilyn Borst has made four visits to Iraq since 1998 as a missions catalyst at First Presbyterian Church in Houston and as a leader of Evangelicals for Middle East Understanding. She notes that three Presbyterian churches are in or next to the northern and southern no-fly zones patrolled by American and British pilots.
"I've heard the fighters there. I've heard the antiaircraft responses on the ground from the Iraqis. I've heard the air raid warnings," Borst said. "So there is a great deal of fear."
Saying they trust in God's providence, Iraq's Presbyterians ...