Name: Nawal George
Member of: St George's Church, Baghdad, Iraq
In Easter 2006 Mothers' Union began a branch at St George's Church, Baghdad. At the time the church was surrounded by razor wire and bomb barricades. Christians had suffered enormous persecution following the fall of Saddam Hussain's regime, and hundreds of thousands of Christians had fled to neighbouring countries to escape sectarian violence.
Amongst this atmosphere of constant fear and violence, Nawal founded the St George's branch of Mothers' Union. Her initial membership of 100 has grown to over 2,000 members in 2012. Christians of all denominations - and Muslim women too - come to the branch meetings for fellowship and support, and work hard to achieve community cohesion in one of the most difficult cities in the world.
Critical to the women is their faith life. Through the difficult times, building a community that has hope has been essential. This unusual parish comes closer to God by sharing their stories. Amongst the tales of terror, the members express what the vicar of the church, Canon Andrew White, calls "a simple gratitude to God for survival". Father Andrew says, "I have never before experienced a congregation like this. In Baghdad, relationships with God are just as real as the bomb threats wavering outside".
Nawal has built up an extraordinary prayer ministry within the Church, and she and other members visit families in the community - particularly those with disabled children - to pray with them, and to bring hope. Mothers' Union members also provide weekly food for hundreds of local families, an outreach which was particularly vital when women were too afraid to go to the markets as they were frequently bombed during the unrest.
Without the support of prayer from all Mothers' Union members all over the world, our lives would be very difficult; very hard. When we started it was hard for us to go out on the streets or to meet. But we have seen real answers to prayer. I want to say to every Christian woman - we are all one body under one head, Jesus Christ. We are all part of the same work: we need you and we know you need our prayers. We are one in Christ."