For Reverend Canon Andrew White, an Anglican priest from Great Britain, ministry is anything but routine at his parish—St. George’s Church in Baghdad. His work involves distributing food and medical care to both Christians and Muslims. And he also tries to bring together Muslim, Jewish, and Christian leaders in a land rife with religiously motivated violence.
The statistics are almost unbelievable—I say “almost” because Canon White lives them every single day. Iraq is spiraling downward into more and more sectarian violence. On a recent Wednesday morning, just to cite one example, three bombs exploded in Baghdad, killing 20 people and injuring dozens more.
White says that 1,096 of his parishioners at St. George’s have been killed in just the past five years. Canon White told Christianity Today, “So many of our brothers and sisters here in Baghdad have been killed, kidnapped, or tortured . . . Many of my staff have also been killed . . . Our former chief of security . . . had a leg blown off.”
A major target of the violence is the quite old Christian presence. The number of Christians in this mostly Muslim land has fallen from 1.5 million in 2003 to just 250,000 today, and many of the few who remain are under threat and in deep need.
Nina Shea, director of the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom notes, “Iraq’s Christian presence is critically important to its peace, democracy, and prosperity. The Christians are a segment of that population that is politically moderate, educated, skilled and well represented in the professions.”
For this reason and others, Canon White has chosen to stay and encourage his fellow Christians and work for peace in an increasingly bloody and dangerous milieu.
What his life and work is demonstrating is applied worldview thinking in the trenches. “We provide for our neighbors because that is the work of our Lord,” White told CT. “Everyone who receives help sees the love of the church, and thus the love of God. Many non-Christians come to our church, but they know that our Lord loves them.”
I am thrilled to tell you that Canon White is the Colson Center’s 2014 William Wilberforce Award winner, joining such past luminaries as Archbishop Timothy Dolan, Joni Eareckson Tada, Gary Haugen, and Bishop John Rucyahana.
Since 1987, Prison Fellowship has given the annual Wilberforce Award to someone who has made a difference in the face of formidable societal problems and injustices. The award is given in honor of William Wilberforce, the eighteenth-century British parliamentarian who stood against the prevailing culture and economic interests in his campaign to abolish the slave trade and reform manners.
The sacrificial work of Canon Andrew White in Baghdad makes him a fine addition to this distinguished list.
And we’d love for you to hear directly from Canon White about his ministry and how you can help. How? Join us for the 2014 Wilberforce Weekend, May 2-4, in Chantilly, Virginia, just outside Washington, D C. Besides hearing from Andrew White, you’ll meet and network with hundreds of like-minded Christians seeking to create real, restorative change in their communities through the power of a biblical worldview.
Besides the Vicar of Baghdad, you’ll have the opportunity to hear from other great speakers, such as Timothy George, Skye Jethani, Jay Richards, and Chris Brooks. I’ll be hosting the event, which is always a highlight of my year, and I’d love to see you there.
At the Wilberforce Weekend you don’t just sit and listen; you’ll be learning to apply your worldview at our Innovation Stations. They’ll help you see, learn, touch how the best ministry organizations are bringing Christian worldview to life. You’ll leave with effective and inspiring ideas to create restorative change in your own family, church and community.
So come to BreakPoint.org, click on this commentary, and we’ll give you the details about how one follower of Christ, the Vicar of Baghdad, is making a difference—and how you can, too.
Reaired from March 4, 2014
BreakPoint is a Christian worldview ministry that seeks to build and resource a movement of Christians committed to living and defending Christian worldview in all areas of life. Begun by Chuck Colson in 1991 as a daily radio broadcast, BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today’s news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print. Today BreakPoint commentaries, co-hosted by Eric Metaxas and John Stonestreet, air daily on more than 1,200 outlets with an estimated weekly listening audience of eight million people. Feel free to contact us at BreakPoint.org where you can read and search answers to common questions.
John Stonestreet, the host of The Point, a daily national radio program, provides thought-provoking commentaries on current events and life issues from a biblical worldview. John holds degrees from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (IL) and Bryan College (TN), and is the co-author of Making Sense of Your World: A Biblical Worldview.