Reprinted with permission of Charisma News Service.

Leaders of national Christian evangelical organizations launched aglobal prayer initiative for the Iraqi people on May 27 and debunkedcriticism that Christian relief efforts in postwar Iraq aim to convertthe predominantly Muslim nation to Christianity.

Ted Haggard, president of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), announced Operation: Iraqi Care at a press conference in Washington. The initiative provides an opportunity for Christians worldwide to join as "prayerpartners" in helping Iraqis rebuild their country. The Internet-basedeffort--supported by the World Prayer Team, the Presidential PrayerTeam, World Relief and the Christian Emergency Network--provides a specific avenue for Christians "to encourage and bless the Iraqis" through the power of prayer and through the "adoption" of a specific Iraqi city to lift up in prayer, Haggard said.

Recent criticism in the mainstream media of evangelical assistance to Iraq was "erroneous thinking, it's an erroneous assumption (that they will proselytize)," NAE Vice President for Governmental Affairs Richard Cizik told Charisma News Service.

The NAE's aid arm, World Relief, which has 60 years ofhumanitarian service, and NAE member Samaritan's Purse, "understand therules of the road and are well prepared and experienced to respond tosocial and humanitarian needs," Cizik added.