Cliff Kindy Iraq Blog

Current entries are related to Cliff Kindy's fourth Iraq trip, beginning in October 2007. The blog archives contains letters from Cliff's third Iraq trip in 2004-5.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Reflection on Sunday Worship

Reflection on Sunday Worship
7 November, 2007
By Cliff Kindy

Sunday evening we worshiped at the Chaldean Church in Suleimaniya, Iraq, with about 150 other believers. The formal chants and longer homily seemed, in my state, stilted and unconnected with reality. The service was in Kurdish and Arabic so my attention kept focusing on other thoughts and images. There were two tiny babies, one very quiet and the other making quite a fuss. Many single men were to my right in the rear of the congregation. A young boy caught my eye – he had longer black hair and he kept looking back at me.

Suleimaniya is a city of about 800,000 people with a small Christian population of one hundred families. Khalid, the director of the Ministry of Awqaf and Religious Affairs, told us earlier in the week that the first Christians came to this city in 1826. Recently nearly 160 new Christian families have moved to the city. They are fleeing the violence that is overwhelming the center and south of Iraq.

The worship ends. We gather out on the darkened plaza. I move to greet the parent of the black haired boy. Rizza is Iranian. His English is better than my Farsi, but we don’t talk much before he departs, perhaps a bit uneasy in this group of new strangers.

Ahmed approaches me. He is working in Suleimaniya now, but had to flee Baghdad because of threats on his life as a result of his translation work with the US military. His family is still in Baghdad and he returns occasionally to be with them. His father is an English teacher here in Suleimaniya, but is now back in Baghdad while his wife has surgery. His father was a translator with DynCorp, a private contractor. Ahmed asks me about working with CPT, His father and other friends also need jobs.

Schools in Suleimaniya operate with three shifts, both the Kurdish schools and the Arabic schools. The latter are especially for the new arrivals who don’t speak Kurdish well. Newcomers are finding houses and hotels in which to stay and new construction is occurring all across the city. But skilled jobs are difficult to find and a friend of CPT says the recent arrivals are welcome but must leave when the situation improves.

I reflect. It is unusual that so many men have come to worship alone. What stories might their lives tell? The Christian population has more than doubled and Christians have traditionally been the ones with connections to the US and Europe. What does this mean for the infrastructure of the city that has to carry this population explosion? What political events bring this father and son from Iran? How will the threatened bombing of Iran by the US impact other families? Babies. We are approaching the season for a baby. What are the times in which we live? Maybe I missed an emotionally charged worship. It is time to connect with God breaking in.


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