Last month, we were excited to introduce General Baptist Ministries’ new missions partnership connecting us with 13 countries in need of the gospel. Now we want to tell you about one of those amazing places: Iraq.
Let’s start in Kurdistan (an autonomous region in northern Iraq), where many of the opportunities in Iraq are located. The region also includes parts of Turkey, Syria, and Iran. While many Middle Eastern cultures are known for hospitality, a worker in this region claims that “there is no argument, the Kurdish people are the most friendly and hospitable people you’ll meet in the world.” Students are eager for deep conversations and excited to connect with foreign English teachers. Sharing tea and food is key to this relational culture. Picture yourself getting to know a new friend over a cup of tea at one of the many local tea houses, or being invited into a family’s home and discussing the important things in life over delicious dolma and kebabs.
The biblical history of this region is remarkable. Abraham was born there, Babylon and the Tower of Babel were there, and ancient Nineveh lies in ruins near the modern city of Mosul.
This biblical history does not reflect the religion of the culture. Instead, Iraqi culture has strong roots in Islam, making it very conservative. A high value is placed on family identity and honor. This is part of why compliments are plentiful while direct criticism is less common—it avoids the risk of causing anyone to lose face. The Islamic culture comes from the vast Muslim majority of 95.7%. The Joshua Project estimates that the 26 unreached people groups make up 98% of the population—over 44 million people.
God’s love for those 44 million calls us to action, and General Baptists have a part to play in this. We want to send Christians into this part of the world to be a light there. We want to reach students by teaching English in language centers and universities. We want to get to know these people whom God loves and care for them by learning Arabic and Kurdish so that they can hear the gospel in their own heart language. The warm culture and openness to deep spiritual discussions mean that we will have many opportunities to share the hope of Jesus.
If you want to be the one to share that hope, reach out to Mark Powell (VP of Global Missions) to find out more.