Thursday, February 23, 2012
A World of Extremes and Laughter in Baghdad
By Michael Ireland
Senior International Correspondent, ASSIST News Service
BAGHDAD, IRAQ (ANS) -- Nick Shenow sits in Canon Andrew White’s office in Baghdad, not far from St. George’s Church, where White is the vicar.
FRRME is based in a market town in leafy Hampshire, United Kingdom, which may seem miles away from Baghdad, however their small staff team operates in both of these locations.
With a link in the heart of Baghdad, outside the safety of the Green Zone, FRRME seeks to support Iraq’s most vulnerable through the ministry of Canon White, who, because of the nature of his work, is described as “one our generation’s most daring individuals.”
FRRME works tirelessly to support White -- Iraq’s only Anglican Vicar -- and his ministry in Iraq and his vision for its people.
The small, dedicated, FRRME team supports all aspects of Andrew’s work – in Iraq, the UK and overseas – from its small office in the UK.
Shenow has most recently returned from an incredible year at Bill Johnson’s ministry school, the ‘Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry’ in California.
He was able to put his ministry training to work on a Bethel mission trip to Lebanon, and whilst ministering with Flame International in Israel, the Palestinian territories and in the world’s newest country, South Sudan.
Shenow joined FRRME as the Senior Projects Officer and is now serving as its Director of Operations. He is excited to see the Kingdom of God established through the work of Canon Andrew White and the team in Baghdad.
He loves to preach and minister and, in his spare time, travels and yearns to be in the outdoors; whether skiing, cycling, fly fishing or spear-fishing.
But, on this day, seated next to White, he says, “Baghdad is a ‘World of Extremes’.”
“I now sit yards from St. George’s Church. The minute I walk inside its walls and focus on Jesus, I find I am nearly in tears; God’s presence can be felt so strongly here. From that place of peace, to just across the city where on Sunday, a massive suicide car bomb was detonated outside the Police Academy,” he writes in a ministry update on the group’s Facebook page.
“We were completely unaware until we looked at the BBC News the next day! Several were killed. Their body parts strewn everywhere. People can go from peace to extreme violence in the space of a few city blocks.”
Shenow has already met with many from St.George’s.
“They are a passionate and committed community full of hope. I love their outlook, their humor and healthy cynicism,” he said.
“As we drove through the city this morning a new building was pointed out to me. I thought, ‘Perhaps this reconstruction is a symbol of progress?’ As if reading my mind one of Andrew’s staff immediately answered me, ‘Ha, a new building. Nick, you know what happens when they put up a new building?’ I said that I didn’t. ‘Someone comes and tries to blow it up. Just because!’ Ironically, we laughed at this absurd situation, two steps forward and one step back.”
Shenow says that, of course, wanton violence is part of the picture here.
“But it is only a ‘part’ of the picture,” said Shenow. “God is painting His parts too. For instance, I went to a home for children today with severe physical handicaps and learning disabilities who were cared for by ladies who have left everything to devote themselves to these little ones.
“I have spoken to a young Muslim man who is getting to know Jesus here at St. George’s. I spoke with Lana, a Kindergarten teacher, who has asked if you would pray for the political situation to stabilize. Why? So the Kindergarten children in St. George’s can have a future in Iraq. So with your prayers, we can build a future for Iraq and paint a very different picture for God.”
Today, Canon White, the popular ‘Vicar of Baghdad’, with whom Shenow is working, met with Sheik Khalid, “a dynamic, surprisingly young, but important Sunni cleric.”
He outlined his activities of the past several days while in Baghdad.
On Sunday, Shenow saw at St. George’s the food aid distributed to several hundred families.
“On Monday, I saw a tooth extracted in the clinic – ouch! Finally and thirdly, today I decided to look with the eyes of faith. I saw signs of not just hope, but laughter and humor,” he said.
Shenow writes: “I see God laughing. I see him laughing at his enemies: laughing at the wanton violence, laughing at those who kill their countrymen in the name of some other god. Through the acts of love and hope, I see our God’s laughter is moving through the people of St. George’s and God is winning in Iraq.”
He continued: “We have just had an outstanding meeting with Sheik Khallid Al Mullah, the Sunni leader. We talked about how the Fatwa from the Sunni against killing the Shia has worked. We arranged to go together on Friday to see Sheik Akeel at Ezekiel Tomb. This is a major, major achievement.
“We also spoke about how we needed to work internationally, but there was total agreement that we can only do this with full Jewish involvement.”
FRRME web site: www.frrme.org
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