Extracts from an interview with the Canon Andrew White who is dubbed the “Vicar of Baghdad” because his church, St George’s, is the only remaining Anglican Church left in Baghdad. (22nd March 2011)
I say to people please don’t leave, but how can you say that to people who are being killed?
Iraqi Christians are so beautiful, so committed, such a faith! They know what it means to suffer. But they will not give up. Following Jesus is the most important thing to them. I baptized 12 people once, and 11 of them were killed the following week. I asked them before I baptized them, “Do you know how dangerous this is?” and they said, “Yes, we know”.
Topic: Changes in Egypt and Tunisia
The fact is that many people in Iraq say they wish they were still under Saddam because things were much easier for them, especially for the Christians. As regards the recent uprisings, it isn’t really an issue for people in Iraq. They are already living in fear and terror.
Two bad things have happened in Iraq: terrorism—which is from the outside, and corruption—which is from the inside.
So it is easily understood why people live in fear. Every part of the community has suffered.
I watch it! And my children at the church regularly call in. After the recent church bombing (in Alexandria, Egypt) they made a point of calling in. One night I had three children in a row calling. If SAT-7 knew they were all calling from my phone and from one church, they probably wouldn’t let them on!
One thing you need for TV in Iraq is electricity. We only have about two hours a day of electricity. My children (in Iraq) say I must be corrupt because I have electricity and security! (provided by generators in the Green Zone).
SAT-7 has not just become a means for the Christian community to be connected with each other, but it shows that they are a part of the Body, they are one with all the other Christians, and for that they give thanks.
We run a medical clinic five days a week and we have a special flat screen TV in the waiting room so people can watch SAT-7 while they wait.
All these other TV stations that are supposedly Christian are nothing like SAT-7. And SAT-7 is probably better than any other.
And though we don’t have the opportunity to say thank you—we do!—because it shows that we are not alone, there are others out there like us. And we love it!
Topic: Children in Iraq
We have so many children that know nothing but war. People ask me, “How do you manage to keep going in Iraq?” The answer is: the children. They have an incredible sense of the presence of the Almighty God.
The hardest thing I have to face is not the possibility of being shot or blown up—but the pain of some of my children leaving Iraq. But whenever you have love you can be hurt. We lose people because they are killed or leave…but thankfully most are still with us.
The Christian media can bring something of the Almighty, of God to the little people.
The programmes broadcast by SAT-7, particularly on the KIDS channel, are outstanding. It gives them hope for the future and shows them there are others who love Jesus as they do.
All the people say they are praying for peace. I say, “great!” But peace doesn’t come easily. We brought together leaders and signed a fatwa against the killing of Christians. I say don’t just pray for peace, pay for peace.
It’s not about how much you give. It’s about how much you have left.