By Melissa Wuske
Churches Close in Baghdad
Christians were once 10 percent of Iraq’s population, but since 2003 the population of Christians in the country has dropped by 1 million. “Now, in 2017, the Christian population in Iraq is just a fraction of what it used to be,” said International Christian Concern (ICC). “So much so that eight churches have been closed down in Baghdad, relics of a community since departed.”
The closing of the churches reflects the mass immigration of Christians fleeing persecution. “It’s important to recognize that ISIS is not solely responsible for this. Christians have faced various forms of persecution and discrimination from a wide variety of perpetrators throughout the past 15 years,” said ICC. According to one resident of Baghdad, there have been three different stages: “The first was from 2005-2007, [the] second was in 2010 when some extremists attacked [a] church during Sunday mass and the third stage was in 2014 when ISIS attacked [the] Nineveh Plain.”
Christians’ Community Service Goes Unseen
Most Americans (60 percent) know that churches feed the hungry, but fewer people know about other benevolent ministries of churches or church members. Only 16 percent of those surveyed by LifeWay Research know of churches or church members that tutor children, and 12 percent knew that some churches provide foster care. A full 14 percent of those who responded had not heard of churches doing any of the more than a dozen services the survey asked about.
“Unless you’ve received help from a church—or been involved in serving others—these kinds of programs may fly under the radar,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research. This lack of awareness can be a problem: “People who need help may be missing out,” McConnell said. “And Americans who want to lend a hand might miss the chance to help out and along the way connect with the church.”
What’s the biggest threat facing our nation today? Pew Research asked people around the globe. In eighteen countries, ISIS was the top response, including countries in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and the United States. Worldwide, ISIS was seen as a significant threat by 62 percent of people.
Nearly as many people (61 percent) think climate change is a major threat to their nation. That was the top response in 13 countries, particularly those in Latin America and Africa. Just over half (51 percent) of people listed cyber attacks from other countries as a major threat. That was the top response in Japan.
More than a third of people around the world (35 percent) see the power and influence of the United States as a major threat to their nations.
Bread in Space
Astronauts on the International Space Station can have many things, but fresh baked bread isn’t one of them. Sebastian Marcu aims to change that. His company, Bake in Space, is working to make it possible to bake bread so that astronauts have an option besides tortillas, which don’t crumble and are easy to hold on to, for their sandwiches. Marcu is up against challenging conditions. The temperature in space makes it difficult for dough to rise, and baking at a cooler temperature dries out bread, creating breadcrumbs that are dangerous to the machinery on the space station. Plus, an oven couldn’t preheat on the space station: if the oven door was opened after heating, a hot air bubble would come out, and “it could just sit there in midair and the astronaut could basically burn himself if he flies through it,” Marcu said. Despite these challenges, Marcu believes an astronaut will be able to bake bread in space next year.
Melissa Wuske is a freelance editor and writer. She and her husband, Shawn, live and minister in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts. Find her work online (melissaannewuske.com).