A one hour prayer vigil was held at Parliament Square yesterday. At least 600 Christians came together to share a time of corporate prayer over the terrible situation faced by minorities in Iraq. Wearing red to symbolise the blood of martyrs they came without banners.
The event which grew through a facebook campaign led by a group called “Prayer 7:14”, brought Christians of all diversities to a designated meeting point known for it’s political influence. The Houses of Parliament a hub for British politics was the focus of prayers. Petitioners sought stronger aid and military protection for millions of defenceless people.
Pat Allerton Leader of the Group said;
“This is where the Church in meant to be, we’re meant to be engaged with culture, we’re meant to be a city on a hill; a light on its stand, just getting out there going public with the gospel”.
Hear his full Premier Christian Radio interview by clicking (here):
Some of the worlds oldest churches stem from Iraq and ancient denominations such as the Chaldeans, Syriac orthodox, Syriac Catholic churches and others, once has strong loyal fellowships, the total number of registered Christians amounting to between 5 – 8% of the total population in 2003. Since the Iraq War the number of Christians has dropped dramatically to a figure of around 450,000 or less.
In recent weeks extremist group ISIS have successfully mounted several successful insurgency attacks, capturing cities such as Sinjar, Rabia and Zumar. These cities have large populations of minority faith adherents including; Christians, Yezidis, Shia Muslims and other minorities. It has been reported that there was no reasonable defence offered by Peshmerga forces.
Stories have emerged of forced conversions, beheadings, mass assassinations and gang raping of women who are later sold into slavery or as concubines. Already the UN has declared it’s highest level of Emergency – a Level 3 Emergency – in attempts to expedite aid and protection for the victims of these atrocities.
Images of the violence have shocked people of good conscience, but in the main, western media has chosen to devalue reports and has provided little coverage, focusing their headlines on the Israel-Palestine conflict, with fewer fatalities and casualties.
Our Chairman Wilson Chowdhry attended the prayer vigil with his family; his wife Juliet and daughters Hannah, Naomi and Leah. The sombre occasion included no speakers, just people offering their own silent prayers and group prayers to God, praying for a restoration of peace in the Middle-East, help for suffering victims of violence, western government intervention and an end to genocide.
Wilson Chowdhry said;
“Contending in prayer with other Christians simply felt right, our most ancient churches are being decimated if not eradicated from Iraq. People are being forcibly converted or made to suffer the most ignominious and barbaric torture, often facing death. Moreover, forced conversion is no guarantee of safety as pernicious ISIS simply kill you anyway. Faced with such odds, the future of Christians in Iraq looks extremely bleak and the quality of life for minorities has reached a nadir.”
“Britain is partly responsible for the current rise of the militant group ISIS. Britain’s illegal and immoral war in Iraq has no doubt, allowed ISIS to usurp much territory and authority through increased instability in the region. There paltry attempts to provide aid and assistance is therefore unacceptable and demeaning. In essence it reeks of shameless cowardice based on their failed previous endeavour.”
Prayer was both led and individual. Often people clustered into groups for corporate prayer.
Wilson Chowdhry carried the BPCA cross intent on displaying the most recognised symbol of our faith.