One of the practical initiatives that At the Crossroads has supported over the last few years is an unusual but growing initiative. It is called Awake Assyria and is sponsored by the Mesopotamian House of Prayer (MHOP) in Erbil, northern Iraq. Awake Assyria is a 100 hours prayer and worship event that happens every October. It brings together local and international believers for times of worship (following the prophecy of Isaiah 19:23-25) and intercessory prayer for the Kurdish people and the region.
Last year a team from Israel, made of both Jewish and Palestinian believers, traveled to northern Iraq to take part in this very special event. The times of worship and prayer were done in all the languages of the Middle East, Arabic, Hebrew, Kurdish, Turkish, and Farsi, as well as Assyrian (Chaldani and Suriani) and Armenian. It was an exciting to watch God soften hearts through worship, and then break down walls of ethnic division. Different groups prayed and literally wept over one another.
MHOP was set to receive our team from Israel and many others from the nations for the Awake Assyria, 100 hours of prayer and worship. However, in the wake of the Kurdish Regional Government of Iraq referendum for Kurdish independence, Iraq together with the nations of the Middle East closed down the International airports and restricted border crossings. Sadly because of this people from outside of northern Iraq will not be able to physically join the Awake Assyria gathering.
Despite the challenges, MHOP will still host 50 hours of prayer and worship between October 24–October 28th. The first session of prayer and worship started this evening, and will continue tomorrow and each day for 12 hours, from 10:00am to 10:00pm until October 28th. Even though we can not join them in person, many from around the Middle East are gathering with other believers for times of prayer and worship. MHOP has put up a schedule online, and is encouraging other from around the world to partner with Awake Assyria. You can sign up for prayer times by clicking HERE.
Here are some specific prayer points MHOP has sent out about how we can pray for the Church in northern Iraq.
Because of these current events and big sudden changes happening in the country, the Kurds feel humiliated, betrayed and deeply disappointed by everyone and every country.
Pray that the Kurds do not to look to political leaders, military or other countries for their hope, but seek to find God as their Deliverer, their Rock, their Fortress whom alone can be trusted and never disappoint. (Psalm 18:1–3; Acts 17:24–27) The Kurds must allow humility in their hearts to make room for repentance. The loss can lead to victory which is salvation.
It is critical during these days that believers in Iraq made of different backgrounds (Assyrians, Kurds, Arabs…) do not become political and siding with different political parties and governments. Believers in Iraq must identify themselves with Christ and His Kingdom before identifying themselves with their people group, political parties and even their own earthly land. Following Jesus, preaching the gospel of the Kingdom and making Jesus known is what unifies us! (Matthew 6:33) Pray that the church would become a “House of Prayer” and fulfill its priestly mandate, a church filled with the presence of God and unshakable no matter what happens in Iraq / Kurdistan.
Unity: It has been one of our Biblical goals to see a “one new man” in Iraq (Ephesians 2:14-16). Pray that the wall of division is broken between the people groups of Iraq (Arabs, Kurds, Turkmen, Yazidis, Assyrians, etc). Pray that believers from these different backgrounds will not be influenced by the growing hatred and division between these people groups who have not yet come to know Jesus. Pray that they would have the opposite spirit to love one another, and truly forgive one another. This will make it possible for all to be one family and to be unified. (John 17:9-11)
Discipleship: Pray for humility and spiritual hunger in the growing number of new believers from a Muslim background, known as Muslim background believers (MBB’s). In Iraq and the Middle East region, the number of Muslims turning to Jesus is growing, but the spiritual depth is generally very shallow. Pray for a real, deep spiritual stirring amongst the MBB’s to go deeper and be transformed into the character of Christ.
Foreign workers are also being effected by these changes happening in the country. Some organizations made their workers leave, others are thinking about leaving, but all of us are wondering how these changes will affect our residency/visa status to be in the country. Pray that the region will remain open for access of those bringing the Gospel.