With bombs hitting Baghdad 15 hours a day, Dominican priest Yousif Touma and the Christian community in Baghdad are terrified.
"We deal with the fear with our faith, but even Jesus was afraid on Holy Thursday. It is normal to be afraid," Touma said Tuesday by phone from Baghdad. "When we are together, it is easier, and when we know believers are praying for us, it is a little bit easier."
Touma urges Western Christians to both pray and donate money for humanitarian relief.
"Many people will be in need because our country is weak [after] 13 years of sanctions," said Touma, who edits a magazine called Christian Thought. "We want Christians to pray and make sure that nongovernmental organizations can bring supplies all over the country."
Few Christian relief organizations are working in Iraq at the moment. Many are coordinating their work through the ecumenical Middle East Council of Churches, based in Beirut, Lebanon. The MECC has 16 distribution centers across Iraq, with two or three employees each. The MECC is monitoring Iraq's borders with Jordan, Iran, and Syria, bracing for a flood of 600,000 refugees.
"MECC is preparing for all scenarios," said spokesman Samuel Rizk.
World Relief, World Vision, Church World Service, and Food for the Hungry are working at two camps in Jordan, one set up for Iraqi refugees, the other for Third-Country Nationals, who are fleeing Iraq for their home country. Relief agencies are planning for 60,000 Third-Country Nationals. Agencies are also preparing to enter Iraq, where food shortages are being reported.
Tor Valla, a water engineer with Norwegian Church Aid, a partner of the ecumenical Action by Churches Together, left Iraq just before the bombs started falling. On Tuesday he said he is eager to ...1