A bloody war has cost Iraq thousands of lives. Now it is time for the church to deal with the living souls that remain.

On February 28, 42 days and 100 hours of war ground to a halt when a Nebuchadnezzar Wannabe read the handwriting: It’s false labor for the mother of battles. And while most analysts agree that Mr. Hussein’s days are numbered, the brutal job of fighting war must now give way to the even more painful task of waging peace. To Christians, war begs for prayer; peace demands our presence.

What does it mean, then, for the church to be present in the delicate arena of peacemaking? We can begin by understanding the awful cost of this conflict. Our carefully controlled media coverage lifts before us the remarkable number of only 69 Americans killed in action, and we are grateful that so few of our own lost their lives. But what about the estimates that more than 100,000 Iraqis were killed? What about the estimated 300,000 (including 15,000 civilians) who were injured? The Kuwaitis’ scorched homeland? What about Iraq’s cratered cities? The thousands of humiliated “enemy” soldiers returning to an uncertain fate? This war, in both human and economic terms, was not cheap. While there is reason to rejoice, the Christian heart must also grieve.

From our grief, however, we can follow the Master’s example when he wept over Jerusalem, then gave his life to save it (and us). Can Baghdad be our Jerusalem? Will the interest in sending missionaries to Europe that prevailed at the end of World War II be repeated for an area that is culturally and religiously more foreign? Will the American church reach across political boundaries and work with Arab Christians who once viewed Saddam as a champion ...

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