Despite reports of a virtual Christian exodus from Iraq, the churches in the country are growing, according to the first missionary agency to support and promote indigenous mission groups.
A Christian ministry leader who has traveled in Iraq four times in the last year told Charlottesville, Va.-based Christian Aid, "Despite everything, the churches in Iraq are growing.
Although Muslim extremists have attacked churches and threatened, kidnapped or murdered Christians, driving thousands of Iraqi believers into neighboring countries for safety, the mission leader whose name was withheld for security reasons said Christians who are staying are seeing their churches grow.
He believes the sudden influx and subsequent withdrawal of many foreign missionary agencies following the toppling of Saddam Hussein contributed to this growth.
"I have never seen so many foreign groups coming into one place [after Saddam Hussein's government was overthrown]," he said, according to Christian Aid. "But, as soon as things started to get difficult, many of them pulled out, leaving only the Iraqi Christians to do the work."
Christian Aid reports that Iraqi believers have stepped up efforts to spread the gospel to their countrymen despite the danger some of them face from insurgents fighting in the name of Islam.
Iraqi believers know that the need for Christ's gospel of peace is stronger than ever, and they are determined to spread it, Christian Aid reported.
The mission leader says this force of native Iraqi missionaries points to a change that ought to take place in missions across the board.
"Churches in America need to change their ideas about missions," the leader declared. "They need to trust the natives' vision to reach their own people and get behind them with support."
Christian Aid is asking for the prayer support of believers in America for those in Iraq spreading the gospel in a volatile situation.