“The future’s very bleak,” Father White said in an interview with CNSNews.com. “For the first time, I’ve had to consider the very real fact that Christianity could be at an end here.”
“We don’t know if it will survive,” he said by phone from Baghdad. “Nobody wants to stay here. Everybody wants to get out of here.”
When asked to describe the current situation in Baghdad, White said, it “is basically the worst it’s ever been. People are very fearful … with what has happened.”
“Things are slightly better today than yesterday,” he added. “We believe that ISIS has been repelled and is no longer marching towards Baghdad.”
But “they’re still two miles away,” he said. ”That’s quite close.
“People are fleeing in the hundreds,” he said, “What we’ve seen recently is, we saw all the people who were made to leave Mosul and Nineveh, and now we’ve seen several come back to Baghdad because things are so bad in the north.”
White, the only Anglican vicar in Baghdad, works with the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East (FFRME) to provide “a spiritual home, medical care and humanitarian relief as well as promoting reconciliation amongst different religious groups.”
“In Baghdad, things are very stable, but everybody is so frightened,” White said, when CNSNews.com asked him about how the Christians he ministers to are faring.
He added, however, that Christians in the northern section of the country – where the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has been attacking Christian villages--“are literally homeless.
“They’ve no longer got their homes or their security, and they’re living in camps,” he said. “We’re having to take them food and medicine and sleeping equipment, so things are really bad.”
CNSNews.com asked White about his recent return to the United Kingdom (UK) and what brought him back to Baghdad in such dangerous circumstances.
“Here is where I belong, where I’m based and have been based for many years,” he said. “I can’t supply here without raising funds for our work amongst the various churches, and so that’s why I came over to the U.S. and the U.K.”
White said working in Baghdad was worth the risk “because I love the people, and when you love the people, you can’t leave them. They’re your people, and I could never leave them.”
CNSNews.com also asked White about his experience with radical versus moderate forms of Islam.
“Radical Islam is seriously affecting everybody,” he said. “But one thing we see constantly is most of Islam, most of the Muslims here, are not our enemies, but our friends. We live together. We work together, and so we are one.”