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The World Evangelical Alliance and United Bible Societies are moving forward with plans to launch branches in Iraq sometime within the next year. Aglow International already has one women's fellowship started and one forming.

Bible Society in Iraq: Reestablishing a presence

"Since 2003 the United Bible Societies has been interested in reestablishing its presence in Iraq," said Mike Bassous, general secretary of the Bible Society in Lebanon.

The Bible Society operates an Iraqi branch near Baghdad. The office was officially closed in 1979, although it was permitted to import limited quantities of Scripture. The Bible Society reopened the office and warehouse in 2003 with two full-time staff members, but due to the unrest in Baghdad, Bassous said, "the operation is normal, but very sensitive."

Nabil Omeish, program coordinator for the Iraqi Bible Society, characterizes the Kurdistan Regional Government as kind and generous. The application process took a year, during which the Kurdistani government accepted 20,000 Bible Society calendars in Kurdish—and compensated the Bible Society for the production cost. Omeish told the story of another connection in Kurdistan: A Christian financier gave the Baghdad Bible Society $15,000 for a generator.

Omeish received official permission in July to open a branch and is now shopping for office space in Erbil, where he said property values are climbing.

The United Bible Societies expects the new branch in the more secure north of Iraq to be able to have more stability than the office in Baghdad. For a while, the Erbil office will be under the administration of the Lebanese Bible Society. Omeish will concentrate primarily on reaching Kurds. In addition ...

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