SOMEWHERE IN IRAQ - Stating that he "just doesn't feel like [he's] being fed" by the persecuted underground church he's been attending for the past three years, local man Saleem Haddad reported Wednesday that he's planning on trying out a competing church just 30 miles across a deadly patch of open desert that is covered with live explosives.
"Pastor Malik is a great guy and everything. But I don't know. The youth program is just OK, and the refreshments are lacking. And pastor's a pretty good teacher, but he just doesn't make the living Word of God really come alive, you know?" Haddad told reporters through an encoded message for fear of giving away the location of the church, which could result in the further persecution or martyrdom of his brothers and sisters in Christ.
"I heard about another Christian church, about eight hours from here by foot, on the other side of the Passage Of Certain Death," he added. "I think the family and I are going to check it out."
Haddad described his family's wishlist for a church as including topical, relevant preaching, contemporary music, feeling like they can "really get connected," and a casual, laid-back atmosphere that's warm and inviting despite having to sneak into the building at night for fear of capture and slaughter by Muslim authorities.
"We love Pastor Malik, and we wish him all the best, but I feel like it's God's will for us to go church shopping," Haddad said as he and his family began preparations for their dangerous journey across the mine-laden desert. "We really hope this new church has the vibe we're looking for."