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Political analysis and other daily rants on the state of the nation

Sunday | June 15, 2003

Come to Jesus, Iraqis, well the 98 percent who aren't Christians

Evangelists say Iraqis embrace message
Some say missionaries must just help needy; they say people have right to hear of Jesus
By Robert W. Gee


Saturday, June 7, 2003

During a weeklong whirlwind trip through Iraq in May, 13 evangelists delivered more than 100 New Testaments, copies of the Gospel of Luke and "Why Jesus" booklets to Iraqis and American troops.

"Most of the people we gave them to grabbed them, kissed them and hugged them," Carl Medearis, one of the trip leaders, wrote in an e-mail he sent back home to America. "A young man I gave one to burst into tears and said over and over again, 'My family will be SO happy when they see this.' Another man told me he had searched for the Bible for years but didn't know anyone who could tell him where one was. Everyone begged us to come back."

The evangelists -- pastors and career missionaries from Austin, Waco and elsewhere in the United States, Britain and Holland -- also attended church services and walked the streets of Basra to "share the Good News of Jesus directly and indirectly," Jeff Newman, senior pastor of Vineyard Christian Fellowship Austin, wrote in an e-mail home. As they walked, they handed out 50 hardbound copies of the Gospel of Luke, translated into modern Arabic.

"It was like, to them, the greatest treasure. They love them. They hold them dear," said Newman, now back home. For hundreds, perhaps thousands of American evangelical Christians, Iraq is fertile ground for humanitarian relief work -- and introducing Muslims to the story of Jesus. However, some fear that the specter of Americans delivering aid in one hand and a Bible in the other will do more to harm than help America's efforts to earn the trust of Iraqis.

Two points:

One: Iraqis have lived with Christians for centuries.

Two: How long with the fundamentalist clerics, campaigning for all women to wear the veil and are burning liquor stores, tolerate these people?

Steve Gilliard

Posted June 15, 2003 02:07 AM | Comments (146)


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