I don’t know that I realized it at the time, but my love for the history of the Christian Church may have been born in Mosul, Iraq. For those of you who remember the headlines back in the heyday of the war in Iraq, you probably remember hearing “Mosul” often – it was one of the hottest areas of conflict as coalition forces struggled to maintain control. I was a vocalist in one of the Air Force’s bands, and we had been sent to “entertain” the troops at a “Forward Operating Base (FOB)” there. These were places they wouldn’t send big name artists touring with the USO, because it was too dangerous. In fact, while we were there, the commander at one FOB called us and cancelled our show. He thought it would be inappropriate to bring in our dog and pony show, since his unit had taken so many casualties the day before. What I didn’t know before arriving in Mosul, was that this city in the headlines every day in the U.S. was the ancient city of Ninevah. (Ever hear of Jonah being swallowed by a big fish? He was running from God’s command to preach to the people of Ninevah, because he was terrified that they’d kill him.) As I’m contemplating a pilgrimage to the Holy Land with my dad at the end of this year, it made me think of my introduction to the ancient nature of Christian communities in places most people associate with Islam today. There has never ceased to be Christian communities in most of the countries of the Middle East, although their populations have been severely thinned in the past 20 years with the rise of militant Islam. I went back into my archives to see video & photos of my journey into Mosul, Iraq, because it was the first time I realized that the message of Christ is really old and has an amazing continuity that most Americas never think about. We’ll start with this video of riding in a cold Black Hawk as we made our journey. It was cold because of the big opening for the mounted machine gun in the back. I’ll never forget looking out and seeing what appeared to be Bedouin shepherds watching their flocks, looking like they stepped out of a 1970s Jesus movie. They quickly raised their arms in the air as they saw the intimidating gun staring down at them (apparently, the U.S. distributed propaganda to let them know to always raise their arms to show they posed no danger and thus ensure their safety.) Over the next few days, I’ll post other videos that show how Mosul (Ninevah), Iraq developed my understanding of the history of Christianity. As you see the videos, you’ll probably wonder how anyone could be a Christian in such a place. Here, it’s easy.
Where My Love for Christian History Began
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