Nuhad Tomeh, head of relief for the Middle East Council of Churches (MECC), recently asked children in Baghdad what they would most like to see happen in their war-torn city. A 12-year-old boy named Khalad said he'd like to be able to go to school.

The dangers of getting to school—including bombs and kidnappers—and frequent shutdowns threaten his goal of becoming a computer specialist. "Many times the classes are interrupted, and I worry that I won't ever finish my school," Khalad said.

Besides distributing aid to refugees, MECC is funneling funds and relief supplies directly to schools and churches in Iraq. MECC includes Chaldean Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Coptic, and evangelical churches.

"There have been many Christians who have tried to leave Iraq because of the [violent] situation, but also because of the economy—joblessness is very high," Tomeh said by telephone from Beirut. "We're also developing income-generation programs for these churches, so they can help their people to stay in the country."

Iraqi Christians plead for help from the worldwide body of believers, aid agencies report. U.S. Christians can contribute to MECC relief, development, and rehabilitation projects in Iraq, as well as to aid for refugees in Jordan and Syria. Write personal checks (or money orders and cashier's checks) to "Middle East Council of Churches," designating them for "IRRP" or "Iraq Relief & Rehabilitation Program," and send to:

The Middle East Council of Churches, P.O. Box 5376, Makhoul Street, Beirut, Lebanon.

Tomeh says U.S. believers interested in writing letters of support to Iraqi Christians can e-mail or fax him to obtain e-mail addresses. Contact Tomeh at, or fax him at (011) 961.1.344.894.

"During the first two Gulf Wars, 60 percent to 70 percent of Iraqi families lost at least one member, mainly males," says Venture president Leonard Rodgers. "We were shocked to find 1,474 widows in only the churches where we are working."

Earmark contributions payable to Venture International "Intact Relief Iraq" and send to: Venture International, P.O. Box 7396, Tempe, AZ 85281; 800.421.2159;;

Further Suggested Action

Long-time Middle East peace worker Canon Andrew White of England's Coventry Cathedral has numerous church contacts in Iraq. "There are more than half a million Christians in Iraq, and all are at risk and need our help," White said by e-mail from Israel. "Churches are still open, but many are beginning to go underground."

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To channel aid to such churches, donate funds designated "for Iraqi Church Relief" to: St. John's Church, Lafayette Square, 1525 H Street, NW, Washington, DC 20005; 202.347.8766.

Other Christian agencies still providing aid to Iraqis Christians include the following:

Save the Children is providing relief in the southern area of Basra: Save the Children, 54 Wilton Road, Westport, CT 06880; 800.728.3843;

The Barnabas Fund is providing aid to refugees in Jordan and Syria: Barnabas Fund, P.O. Box 1374, Highland Park, NJ 08904;

The Presbyterian Church (USA) has links with several churches in Iraq. To write letters of support to Iraqi Christians, contact the pc(usa)'s Victor Makari or Mark McCabe at Through its partner synod in Lebanon, the pc(usa) directs 100 percent of donated relief funds to Iraqi churches.

Contributions can be made to "PC(USA)." On the designation line write the code "ECOE051722" and send to PCUSA, 102 Witherspoon St., Louisville, KY 40202.

Christians in Iraq request prayer that:

  • they will be able to remain in the land where their ancestors have lived for generations;
  • violence will end in Iraq;
  • stability returns, and that Iraqi people of all faiths will live peacefully side-by-side;
  • God will give hope to the people of Iraq;
  • the new government and coalition forces protect Christians and other vulnerable groups from attack.

Jeff M. Sellers

Related Elsewhere:

Other Christianity Today coverage on Iraq, along with a special section on the war, includes:

Voting Against Anarchy | The greatest threat to liberty in Iraq is not international terrorism. (A Christianity Today editorial, Feb. 18, 2005)
Longing to Be Heard | It's dangerous and lonely to be an Iraqi Christian—at home or in exile. (March, 21, 2005)
The Risks of Regime Change | Middle Eastern Christians might end up more repressed under democracy than under dictators. (March, 18, 2005)
Losing Jesus' Language | The Assyrians, Iraq's main Christian population, struggle to keep their heritage and their ancient language. (Feb. 04, 2005)
Iraq's Christians Disenfranchised at Home and in U.S. | Assyrians are fighting for survival in a region that has long sought their ouster. (Jan. 31, 2005)
Fighting Flight | Christians call for commitment in wake of church bombings. (Sept. 03, 2004)
Iraq's Church Bombers vs. Muhammad | Attacks defy the Prophet's wish for the area's millennia-old Christian community, which is now on the edge of oblivion. (Aug. 06, 2004)
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Emerging from the Shadows | House-church Christians start renting buildings, and dream of evangelism. (March 11, 2004)
Iraq's Good Samaritans | This past summer, pundits predicted that Iraqis would resent Franklin Graham's ministry. What really happened when the workers showed up? (Oct. 24, 2003)
Daring to Dream Again | Chaldean Christians connect with other believers. (July 14, 2003)
Damping the Fuse in Iraq | A veteran peacemaker discusses how religion can help stave off religious conflict after Saddam. (July 09, 2003)
The Mother of All Liberties | Full religious freedom for Iraq is not negotiable. (June 2, 2003)
No Strings Attached | Christians seek to balance relief work and evangelism in Iraq. (May 20, 2003)
Mercy in Baghdad | North Americans endure bombing to chronicle the war's effects on civilians. (May 7, 2003)
Before the Refugee Dam Breaks | Agencies prepare to help up to 900,000 people in Iraq War. (April 24, 2003)
Apocalypse Again and Again | The Bible doesn't tell us when to go to war but how to live in a war-ridden world. (April 16, 2003)
As Baghdad Falls, Agencies Brace for Flood of Work | Aid and mine removal teams could move into Iraq within days. (April 11, 2003)
Mixing Iraq Aid and the Gospel Stirs Debate | Critics say proselytizing can reflect negatively on other relief groups and governments. (April 04, 2003)
Evangelicals Plan to Minister to Iraqis' Needs—Physical and Spiritual | Evangelism efforts will join relief work, say Southern Baptist Convention and Samaritan's Purse (March 27, 2003)
Relief Agencies Prepare to Help Iraqi Refugees | Meanwhile Christians in Baghdad fear the worst. (March 26, 2003)
Keeping Their Heads Down | Vital but dwindling Christians face many pressures. (Nov. 8, 2002)
Death by Sanctions | Iraqi Christians persevere in spite of Saddam Hussein and 10 years of an economic embargo. (Oct. 2, 2000)

Previous Bearing the Cross articles include:

Saudi Arabia—December 2004

Pakistan—October 2004

Iran—July 2004

Vietnam—April 2004

China—January 2004

North Korea—July 2003

Indonesia—April 2003

Nigeria—Feb. 2003

Egypt—Dec. 2002

Cuba—Oct. 2002

Turkmenistan—Aug. 2002

India—June 2002

Saudi Arabia—April 2002

Iran—March 2002

Vietnam—January 2002

Pakistan—Nov 2001

Laos—Oct, 2001

North Korea—Aug. 2001

Sudan—June 2001

Indonesia—April 2001

China—March 2001

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