Review: The Vicar of Baghdad

Anyone whose initial career choice of anaesthetics proves to be the easiest job they do is likely to have quite a story to tell and Andrew White’s account of how he came to be involved in the Middle East is an amazing tale of bravery.

At great personal risk, and frequently in the midst of tragedy, he has been involved in attempting to wring declarations of peace from warring factions in Israel and Palestine and, above all, Iraq. He also took on the leading of a church in Baghdad whose congregation grew from just him and those ‘secretly’ spying on him to around 2,000. It would seem fair to describe him as a divine diplomat.

His view of the war is familiar – it was right to get rid of Saddam but disastrous to have no follow-up plan – but his perspective is different to anything you’re likely to read elsewhere. He shares a horrific anecdote from a friend of his about life in Iraq under Saddam, and says that he has been told that there were WMDs which were smuggled out of Iraq to discredit the invaders.

Most interesting to me is how he has attempted to bring peace in such a violent place with people of different faiths. Gospel peace as I have simplistically thought of it means everyone becoming Christians and finding reconciliation at the cross, in Christ. (History shows this has not always worked but the Bible asserts it). White is more nuanced, his attitude seeming to be that we can’t change everything all at once so what can we change today? This has led to him doing more than most. It’s a complicated but important story, and especially inspiring for Christians who want to make a difference against seemingly-impossible odds.

For more on White’s work, visit his Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East’s website.