One of the special guests at the recent “At the Crossroads” conference at Christ Church, Jerusalem was the so-called “Vicar of Baghdad”, Canon Andrew White.
Travelling about at great risk to his life and with the added discomfort of suffering from Multiple Sclerosis, Canon White had just picked up the 2014 William Wilberforce Award, presented to him in America for his efforts at reconciliation by the Chuck Colson Centre for Christian Worldview.
Canon White leads a 6,500-strong congregation at St George’s in the heart of war-torn Baghdad. It was originally founded in 1864 by a delegation from Christ Church, Jerusalem.
He spoke of how the members of his own congregation were happy despite much suffering – 1,276 of them have perished as victims of violence in the past ten years.
The reason for this, he explained, was because “when you’ve lost everything, Jesus is all you’ve got.”
Canon White has a great love for both Jews and Muslims. Every week in his church they begin their service by singing the Shema, the ancient Hebrew declaration of worship for the one true God.
And he pointed out that the “Isaiah 19 highway” was particularly significant in that it represents all the places through which Abraham travelled – and he is the father of both Arab and Jew.
As part of ancient Assyria, Iraq forms the northern part of the highway and is described by Isaiah as God’s “handiwork”.