Iraq War – Baghdad Pastor’s Perspective

One of Belhaven’s good friends is Cannon Andrew White, who was our Day of Learning speaker two years ago. Andrew is the pastor of St. George’s Church in Baghdad – having ministered there for over ten years (obviously before the war as well as since). He lives in London, and “commutes” to work.

He is the key Christian leader in Iraq, and negotiator between the various religious groups, as well as often called on in hostage situations too. I’ve had the joy of knowing and working closely with Andrew for several years, and he is one of the world’s most fascinating people.

Andrew has been a critical player in the entire Middle East peace process, as the Envoy of the Archbishop of Canterbury. You may remember Terry Waite, who was held hostage for many years – and he has that position before Andrew. If you’re interested in more about Andrew, check out his web site: The Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation.

Whatever your position on the war, we all are asking the same key question: “was it worth it?” I’ve asked Andrew that question many times, and he addressed it again this week in an email to some friends.

Greetings from Baghdad. At times things have been so awful here that I have even wondered if the war of 2003 was right. Then I remember the things I saw and heard before the war. This morning I went to the Iraqi Memory Foundation and the memories came flooding back.

The torture and murder of not tens of people but hundreds of thousands of people. The fear, the persecution the suffering of the majority. It was this that I saw before the war. This was the reason I was so adamant that Saddam and his regime had to be removed. There is no way to describe the previous terror and fear that existed. There is no way to describe the suffering of not a minority but the majority. What the Shia endured must never be forgotten but I fear it has.

The terror of the moment has eclipsed the suffering and memory of the past. I was given some DVD’s at the Memory Foundation this morning. They were simply called “Iraqi Testimonies” and they simply tell stories of death, destruction and the torture of the masses. They are stories that never must be forgotten. They are stories that say why we are here. Sadly they are stories that have been forgotten in the terror of the moment. The MNF I and Iraqi Government are doing an outstanding job but they must be supported and not just brought down. The people of this land are great and one day this land will be great again but we must remember what was and never allow it to happen in any country again.

A huge amount has been given to bring change. Many young men and women of coalition countries, especially from the USA and UK have lost their lives. Not one of them has lost their life in vain. All have given their life for the freedom of the land and people I love and for that I will be eternally grateful.

Blessings from Baghdad, Canon Andrew White

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