March 14, 2007

Adventist News 3

Baghdad Explosion Kills Two, 
Damages Adventist Church

capA rocket exploded in front of the Baghdad Adventist church on February 27, killing two passersby, injuring several others, and damaging an extension building being constructed next to the church. 

“We are not sure whether our church was specifically targeted or if the rocket missed its intended objective,” said Basim Fargo, president of the Adventist church in Iraq. “Whichever the case, the damage and harm to human life are the same. Fortunately there was no meeting in the church when the rocket fell . . . but some previous explosions have taken place during office hours while all the staff were at work.”

NEW CHURCH HEADQUARTERS: A building being constructed next to the Adventist church in Bagdad will be the new home of the Adventist church headquarters in Iraq. [Photo: MEU]

Fargo said the Adventist church in Baghdad has been targeted eight times with car bombs, rockets, and other explosive devices since the beginning of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003. These explosions occur in spite of six armed guards, paid for by the Christian Endowment Office, continually guarding the church.

“One car bomb in September 2004, packed with 150 kilograms (330 pounds) of explosives, damaged the church building severely and blew out most of the stained glass windows,” Fargo said. “The ensuing fire left us with a repair bill of $150,000.”
Church members in Baghdad no longer worship in the church each Sabbath but rather in members’ homes.
“We used to have hundreds of church members,” Fargo said. “Now few families are left, due to regular explosions, kidnappings, and violence, which are taking place across the country.
“The church members who are staying in the country are facing a very difficult time to survive, safety wise and financially,” Fargo explained. “The violence in the country has led to the rising cost of living. It is horrible and dreadful to live in such an atmosphere unless we have an aim or a purpose to do so.”
He added, “We thank the Lord for His protection and guidance to His people and His church.”
The multi-purpose extension under construction will house the church headquarters for Iraq, as well as a music studio and a library. Plans also include rooms for a medical clinic and church staff and guest apartments.
“This project was supposed to be finished some time ago,” noted Fargo, “but due to the current situation, the work was delayed. We hope by the end of this year we will finish it.”
                                                                                               —Middle East Union Communication Department/AR
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