Arab and Kurdish

Fred,

I just finished reading the paper that you and Jim Harries wrote concerning Western money and African missions. (http://www.jim-mission.org.uk/articles/diversity.pdf) Your paper really struck a raw nerve in me and I couldn’t help but reflect on my visit to Iraq last fall, where I saw the exact same thing happening in the churches, both Arab and Kurdish. The influence of Western money and Western televangelists was really a surprise and a shock to me. I was there teaching a course to a group of Arab church leaders. Nearly half of my group were in some way being directly paid by a U.S. based NGO. One of the churches that sent students to my class is a growing and very vibrant congregation. It’s membership is now over 1,000, but it is not financially independent. Their offerings cover only half of their total operating expenses, the rest if being raised from various sources in Europe and the United States. Additionally, the roots of the prosperity gospel are wide spread. Many of the Iraqi leaders I met get a great deal of their theology and teaching from Western televangelists via satellite.

Just outside the Kurdish city where I was teaching, an American NGO had just completed the construction of a beautiful community center, complete with a state of the art operating theater, soccer fields, cafeteria and meeting rooms. The construction was finished, yet there was no plan for staffing, no money for staffing, and the only person they had hired was a youth sports coordinator, who was an Arab. He is a great guy, but he is Arab and this center is in a Kurdish city.

I came home truly excited about the potential for ministry in the Kurdish area of Iraq, a ministry that is in its infancy. But also very disturbed by what I saw coming in from the West. As in Africa, if we don’t wake up and realize that pouring money at spiritual needs is exactly the wrong thing to do, the opportunity in Northern Iraq will dissolve amidst the same lies, in-fighting and political maneuvering that you have seen in Africa. I pray this is not so, but fear it will be.

Thanks for the article, it is a much needed message.

Craig

Craig Smith

1509 5th Street NE

Salem, OR 97301

Phone: 503-371-9067

Office/cell: 503-371-3123