An Iraqi Christian leader who was shot three weeks ago by Muslim extremists is in stable condition but has been paralyzed from the chest down, according to reports received by a Virginia-based mission agency.
According to Christian Aid, the pastor was attacked in a town in northern Iraq on Oct. 22a day that was supposed to be a special celebration of thanksgiving for a new church building he and his congregation had recently acquired. They had been forced to leave their previous building after the landlord had received threats from Islamic extremists for allowing Christian meetings on his property.
Sources say on the way to the new building for the celebration, a car approached the pastor as he traveled with his mother, and someone leaned out of the window and shot him at close range with a pistol. One bullet went through his leg and two through his shoulderone of which damaged a nerve in his seventh vertebra, causing him to lose all sensation from his chest down.
After initial emergency treatment, the pastor was loaded into the back of a van and taken to a hospital in Beirut.
According to the latest reports received by Christian Aid, future diagnoses are uncertain. A native gospel worker who recently returned from a visit with the injured pastor told the mission agency, "It's really something to visit a person who is even happy while not being able to move any part of his body below the chest. I think all visitors to his hospital bed would agree with me that it's lovely to meet him, although we feel very inadequate and it's difficult to say anything at all. But God knows what He's got in mind. We know that [the pastor] has been in the hands of the Lord Jesus from the very beginning, and it's up to Him to heal."
Christian Aid has asked for the Christian community to pray for the healing of the pastor, while also remembering his congregation in the prayers. Since the attack, the congregation has not met together.
Founded 50 years ago in 1953, Christian Aid is generally considered to be the first missionary agency to support and promote indigenous mission groups. Over the years, Christian Aid has provided more than $50 million in assistance to more than 700 evangelistic ministries based in 122 "mission field" countries overseas. These boards deploy a combined total of 90,000 missionaries serving in the most unevangelized nations of the world.