I recently came across a fantastic short documentary entitled ‘The Vicar of Baghdad’. A well-known figure in both the ecclesiastical and popular realms, The Reverend Canon Andrew White is known for his dogged determination to provide a strong Christian witness in the war-torn suburbs of Iraq’s capital city.
White is vicar of St George’s Church, Baghdad, the only Anglican church left in Iraq. Attached to the church is a clinic and a school, providing a powerful outreach and much needed practical help to the entire population.
As President of the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East, Andrew White is also deeply involved in mediation between different factions in the Iraqi civil war, notably Sunni and Shia sects.
‘The Vicar of Baghdad’ shows White visiting his parishioners in the most dangerous areas of the city and paints a picture of a man who is determined to live out his vocation; it would clearly be anathema to him to have an easier life in a leafy English suburb. He clearly empathises with those who are suffering – it underlies his ministry and provides him an authentic ministry to those who truly are on the margins.
Interestingly, in his early thirties White was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a condition which has affected his mobility and speech, and leaves him physically exhausted. Unsurprisingly, such a diagnosis has barely held him back. The film shows Mr. White, always in good spirits, reflecting on his condition and how it relates to his ministry. That he has been undergoing a new stem cell treatment in Baghdad is shown in the film; utilizing his own extracted stem cells White is very positive about the effects, stating that it has completely transformed his life and enabled him to continue his work.
‘The Vicar of Baghdad’ is such an uplifting film that shows us how much of a difference a single person can make. By refusing to give up or give in, despite the circumstances, Andrew White is an example to us all, whether we are Christians or not.
You can watch the film here: