As we remember the suffering and resurrection of Jesus, a similar pattern is being played out within the Syrian Christian Church. This month marks the fifth anniversary of civil strife and bloodshed in this war-torn country. By any measurable index, dire conditions continue to exist and the death toll now exceeds 450,000 lives lost. On an individual and collective basis Christians have experienced the worst of the brutality. “Entire villages [have been destroyed] in the attempt to eliminate Christians from this country.” [cf. Emily Fuentes of Open Doors USA] In spite of this bleak assessment Syrian pastors and their wives report, “the Church in Syria is alive and more active than any time before.” These same Christian leaders affirm “the Lord’s [work in] touching lives at this time of crisis. People are learning how to come humbly to Him, and … to thank God.” New churches are being planted in Syria!
The refugee crisis reported in the media obscures the greater problem of the over 10 million people in need of basic humanitarian assistance within Syria itself. Forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad continue to battle terrorists (including ISIS militants) and a ceasefire that came into effect on February 26th continues but is said to be very “fragile.” Syria is a country on its knees.
It is within this context that people are coming to faith, and Christian pastors are fiercely proud of the church in Syria, and have no intention of leaving Syria even though thousands of other Christians have either been martyred or have been forced to flee.
“Living is our calling” as one pastor’s wife said. “This is very normal to us, and we absolutely don’t feel it is a great sacrifice. It’s the right thing to do. We are in a time of need. This is the time to stay, not the time to leave. Our people need us and they need the Church.”
Please pray for the safety of Christian leaders and their families in Syria. For more information and ways to provide financial support, contact Jalal Aram who attends GBC via www.SyriaVision.org.