It has been estimated that 1.2 million people (about half the population of Brisbane) from Iraq and Syria have been displaced since the Islamic State (IS) started their efforts to establish a caliphate.
A caliphate works as a governing body or region over the entire Islamic religion. The caliph is the supreme ruler and dictates to all Muslims. This IS movement has led to the death of thousands of people, mainly Christians and other minority groups, that have been murdered or have perished while fleeing to try and find safe refuge.
“When I heard about this, I felt deeply troubled and compelled to do something to raise its awareness within our community,” said Toowoomba local Courtney Hepworth.
As a result, Courtney and Revd Dr. Jonathan Inkpin of St Luke’s Anglican Church decided to hold a local prayer meeting as part of the Open Doors Australia-wide ‘Day of Prayer for Iraq’.
“Our hearts are torn by their pain and sorrow. We pray that God’s love and power will transform that situation for the good,” said Revd Jonathan.
On Saturday August 23, twenty people from different churches in Toowoomba gathered together at St Luke’s church to pray for the people of Iraq.
On entering the church people were offered a leaflet and a small prayer stone to hold during prayer. The service began with the reminder that if one part suffers every part suffers with it.
“Music was played gently in the background while we prayed either on our own or with others near us,” said Courtney. “Pictures also scrolled on the screens showing scenes of Iraqi people, culture, and country, providing a visual aide to focus our prayers.”
Revd Jonathan directed the meeting with particular prayer points provided by Open Doors.
“Towards the end of the meeting we were invited to place our stones at the foot of the cross to symbolically leave our prayers with Jesus,” said Courtney.
Those who attended said it was a powerful time of prayer.
“It was a time to mourn with those that mourn and I could feel the pain of those who are suffering, our brothers and sisters in Iraq,” said Molly Joshi.
“It was particularly moving, I think, just to see the faces of a few people from that region to see them receiving aid and how important that is to them,” said Revd Penny Inkpin.
The founder of Open Doors , Brother Andrew, sums it up completely: “If we would understand the potential power of our prayers, we would be on our knees a hundred times a day and ask Him things that would turn the world upside down.”
For more on how you can pray, be informed and give donations, visit www.opendoors.org.au