Wednesday 4 November 2015
Canon Andrew White has been the vicar of St. Georges Anglican Church in Baghdad, Iraq, since 1998. It is one of few churches still standing outside the protected Green Zone.
Nicknamed the “Vicar of Baghdad,” White reopened the church after the invasion of Iraq, though most of the ex-pats and diplomats no longer dared to go there. The congregation swelled to 6,500 Iraqis at its peak. But when ISIS was on the doorstep of Baghdad last year, many fled to Nineveh and Mosul, only to find out that ISIS were there too.
An interview with The Independent reports, “more than 1,200 men, women and children who worshipped with him [White] have been killed in recent years. Four boys he knew were beheaded because they refused to swear allegiance to Islam. The church caretaker was forced to watch as his five-year-old boy was cut in half.”
There used to be 1.5 million Christians in Iraq. Today there are only around 260,000.
Of ISIS White says, “I invited the leaders of Isis [Islamic State] for dinner. I am a great believer in that. I have asked some of the worst people ever to eat with me. ISIS said, ‘You can invite us to dinner, but we’ll chop your head off.’ So I didn’t invite them again!
Ordered by Archbishop Justin Welby – the head of the Anglican Church worldwide – to leave Iraq, White is currently in England, but will soon return to Jordan to pastor the Iraqi refugee community.
He will not give up hope, and he will not give up loving his enemies.
“Sometimes the impossible can happen,” he says. “If you want to make peace, you can’t just do it with the nice people. Nice people don’t cause the wars.”
Read the full interview, here.