Though a civil war is tearing Syria apart, in a church in Aleppo, children are singing and laughter fills the halls. Christians at this church in northern Syria are providing a summer retreat from the trauma that often defines life for these children. “Despite all the challenges, we are trying to organize daily camps,” the pastor says to an Open Doors worker. The children come one day a week for the six week camp. “The whole day they spend at the church having their meals, playing and learning crafts, prayers, having a good time together,” the pastor adds.
“It is not easy,” he honestly admits, “but we are trying our best to help families bring their children to the church and at least teach them something. We hope that God will protect the camps. It is a lot of responsibility and risk too. But we will do our best.”
Running the camp forces the church members to be increasingly vigilant. “Constantly we are aware of the threat of a new bomb blast,” he shared, “and every moment we have to be alert for robbers and kidnappers.” In spite all this, Christians in Aleppo, with the support of Open Doors, are helping refugees from Homs give their children a fun-filled summer.
The church’s host pastor also offered insight into the difficult realities facing Syrian Christians; “Unfortunately there is no safety and we don't know where we are heading. Last week a bomb hit just ten minutes from the church. Thank God nothing happened to us, but it affects the attendance of the church services. If something happens on a Friday or Saturday, then on Sunday less people come to the church service. But it is not only the danger of bomb attacks that frightens the Christians in Aleppo. Gangs, kidnappers and robbers are everywhere. We are very cautious.”
In addition to the violence, economic problems have cast a dark shadow over life in Aleppo. “There are shortages of bread and everything is very, very expensive,” the pastor says. “Car travel in Syria is the easiest, most comfortable and most secure way of transport, but you have to spend a lot more Syrian money than before. Fuel shortages have created a black market. There you can fill your car, but you pay three times more.”
With help of Open Doors, the church is trying to support a small number of refugees from Homs and other needy families in the city. “I am very thankful for the support you give us financially and through prayer,” the pastor concludes.
Father, we know Your mercy and compassion toward these children are great and we lift them up into Your care today. We pray for a good time during summer camp and that You will open their eyes to see You in the midst of their troubled lives. Thank You for the pastors in Aleppo, for their desire to reach out to the children and the refugees from Homs. Grant them wisdom and discernment as they respond to the current instability and danger in Syria. And we lift up that nation that the violence would be abated and that Your name be lifted high. In the name of Jesus the rock of our salvation, Amen.