Iraqi Christian Radio Reaches Millions Amid ISIS Threat
WASHINGTON -- Iraq is considered one of the most dangerous countries in the world for Christians.
Some two-thirds of its once large Christian population have fled the country in the past 12 years alone.
And even in cities not controlled by ISIS, like Baghdad, Islamic jiahdists have placed a bullseye on the backs of believers in Jesus.
Most of Baghdad's Christians have fled the endless violence. But one Iraqi pastor has not only stayed behind -- he's leading Iraq's first Christian radio station.
"When we started this project, it was a pioneering project," Pastor Maher Fouad told CBN News. "No one ever applied for a radio station in the history of Iraq, especially a Christian radio station."
Pastor Maher leads Baghdad's New Testament Baptist Church. He told CBN News he founded 102.9 FM in Baghdad a decade ago to reach Iraqis with the Gospel.
"During the time, violence was a major problem in Baghdad, with the sounds of explosions and car bombs," Pastor Maher said. "And out of all these radio stations that broadcast violence and negative news, our radio station appeared broadcasting the Gospel and the Good News of Jesus Christ."
Since then, the violence hasn't stopped -- and neither has Pastor Maher. The station's daily programing now reaches up to 8 million people in and around Baghdad.
"I pray publicly on our radio station so all the Iraqis will hear it." he said. "Not only Christians but also Muslims call us live on the air requesting that we pray for them."
His bold stance has brought countless death threats -- and with ISIS declaring war on Christians, things have only become more dangerous.
"The situation here in Baghdad is not only bad, it is very bad," Pastor Maher told CBN News. "When ISIS occupied Ramadi, we became in danger because Ramadi is not very far away from Baghdad. On one side, we have ISIS threatening us. And the second danger we face is from car bombs and explosions."
But Pastor Maher remains on the air and he's spreading the message beyond Baghdad. In 2010, with the help of U.S.-based High Adventure Ministries, he established another Christian radio station in Basra, in southern Iraq. That station can be heard as far away as neighboring Kuwait and Iran.
"We rejoice because many, many people are listening and receiving the message and are responding to the message of the Gospel," Pastor Maher said.
In the meantime, he says he has no plans to leave Iraq.
"The Lord protected us," he declared. "And I believe the Lord will protect us also in the coming days."
He says thousands of Iraqi Christian refugees need aid -- and he's praying the U.S. government and the American Church will step up to help as ISIS continues to wreak havoc.