The Vicar of Baghdad

Canon Andrew White with Carolyn
Canon Andrew White with Carolyn

THOUGHTS OF A FRUITCAKE: By Carolyn Aldis

So, I had the unexpected pleasure of meeting an amazing man of God this week…Canon Andrew White started his book tour in Lincoln Alive Church, cataloguing his life and sharing his experience of leading the only Anglican church in Baghdad. I had heard of him briefly many years ago and remember thinking how mad he must be, to work in such a dangerous place. Earlier this year, a friend of mine lent me his book “Faith under Fire” and my opinion remained the same, especially as I read that he had been kidnapped and kept in a room littered with people’s fingers, had been shot at and needed 30 bodyguards to go out on his rounds.

As I listened to him speak, I marvelled at this well spoken, brave, kind, godly man, talking about the horrors of war, often using black humour to get his point across. His way of dealing with warring factions is to get them together to discuss the issues and reach a compromise. When ISIS started to cause problems in Iraq, he did what he has always done…sent them a letter of invitation to come and dine with him and to talk. Their response was to say that if they were to come and sit down with him, they would have to behead him.

“I didn’t invite them again.” He said wryly, with a twinkle in his eye.

He spoke about the children of Iraq that call him “Daddy” due to the fact their own fathers have been killed. I found it incredibly challenging when he said he loves those children as if they were his own. He is able to do this because of the love of God that is so evident in his life.

He works with Muslims and Jews, even though they have very different views to him…he is all about being a peacemaker.

When he was asked about how he dealt with the fear, his face split into a wide smile.

“I never feel fear…because perfect love drives out fear and those children have shown me perfect love.”

He glosses over the fact that he has multiple sclerosis, saying only that it has never stopped him doing what he feels called to do. He speaks carefully, only occasionally tripping over his words. He used a stick to aid his walking and his balance is affected. I was intrigued to know as to how his wife copes with the situation, knowing that he is in such a dangerous place and that his health is so bad.

He said she was “Fine” with it…enough said.

His mantra of “Don’t take care, take risks!” makes me feel like I am missing out…he is an example of a Christian who loves his enemies, even those who want his head. Please buy the book...it’s a brilliant read.

I had my picture taken with him and when I got home, uploaded it on Facebook…when I looked at my camera roll, I realised the person taking it had taken 3…when I saw the first picture, I realised why.

He had stuck his tongue out…no wonder the children love him.