In a Middle East full of conflict and heartache please pray in particular for three places in our own diocese. They are all dear to us.
In Baghdad worship continues unimpeded and the life of St George’s is strong. Fr Faiz Jerjes and his wife Nawal are at the centre of the community. The kindergarten and early-years school, the clinics, the bookshop, and the ministry of food distribution are still the signs of commitment that they always have been. But the nation of Iraq is under huge threat from Da’esh or IS fundamentalism and the strain is bound to affect all who live there, Christians especially. There are many internally displaced people, from Mosul and the Nineveh Plain. Others are refugees in neighbouring countries in appalling conditions. A certain number have departed for good from the Middle East, and others long to, but they know that their native land will always be Iraq and their hearts are troubled. Pray for all traditions of Christianity in Iraq, remembering especially His Beatitude Louis-Raphael I Sako, the Patriarch, who knows St George’s and Faiz well. Pray for Muslims, Yezidis, Mandaeans, and others. Pray for politicians to be bold and honest and for the people to be comforted.
In Aden we hold our breath in a still unfolding national crisis affecting the whole of the Yemen. The former, deposed president, Al Abdullah Saleh, is deeply implicated in the Houthi rebel advance and plainly wishes to regain power by any means. A little while ago it was necessary for the Revd Velvet John and his wife the Revd Vijaya John to relocate to India when things became too dangerous for foreigners. Our Roman Catholic neighbour, the priest at St Francis, has had to do the same in consultation with his bishop. Our Pakistani family at Christ Church also left, at the last possible moment, for Pakistan via Djibouti. Our clinic has, at the time of writing and again at the last possible moment, suspended its work, mainly because medical staff are unable to travel to Ras Morbat each day. The redoubtable and outstanding Mansour Khan, general administrator and, as it were, father to Ras Morbat and its community, is watching ceaselessly as the crisis develops. Pray for him, for Viyaya and Velvet, for the people of the beleaguered city, and for order and justice to come to the Yemen at last.
Finally, and sadly, conflict of a different sort continues to trouble the Dubai chaplaincy and the priest whose licence I withdrew after much reflection in January still persists in operating without authority and in confusing and misleading many. Pray for all the people and for faithful pastors, especially Fr Tim Heaney at Jebel Ali, who holds my licence, and for Diane his wife. Pray for the reputation of the chaplaincy, gained through forty and more years by the firmness of its witness, the decency of its worshippers, and its known anchoring and rooting in the worldwide Anglican family, to be restored and enhanced.