Four years of civil war has come and gone in Syria. In March of 2011, the first protests started in the city of Daraa. Protests soon spread all over the country and turned violent. Open Doors began to support several churches throughout Syria to help the needy internally displaced persons soon after.
A main way Open Doors supports persecuted Christians around the world is by strengthening the indigenous church. Pastor Boutros* (pseudonym) from one of the churches that Open Doors partners with in a coastal Syrian city tells us about his current challenges:
How is the mood of the people in your area in Syria?
People desire to flee and leave the country; no one has hope that things will get better. And there is no hope. Because I know that hope is only in Christ, you can imagine how tired the people are who don’t know Christ.
What is your church doing to help?
We have complete faith that God who has helped us in Syria for these past four years will help us in 2015. In the beginning, we were helping 16 families. Now, we are supporting 2,180 families with your support!
We support families in ten cities. These people face real poverty because they have lost their homes and jobs. The church today is like a tent that cares for those beneath her. And she is like a hospital that cares for those inside. And the most important thing is that the church is like a family for those who feel strange in their own country.
What are you doing to support the families?
We do monthly food distribution. We visit them and see what they have and see what they need. We have a relationship with the people. During the visits, the people hear the gospel and the Word of God. We also visit the sick, and we pray for them and try to help with their medical needs.
Peace comes only through Jesus. When people hear about the war, they want revenge, but the church is doing the work of reconciliation.
I am very happy with what God is doing, even in a time of war and tragedy. The church is offering something entirely different: joy and hope. I see people who were in despair and now have hope again because they now have Jesus. This is even more important than the food. The people appreciate that we are knocking on their doors asking what they need.
Could you give an example of a family you could help?
One of the homes we entered was of a family with a paralyzed child. They had no heating in their house, and the cold caused further pain to the child. We brought them a wood burning stove. The family was very impacted by this. It made me think of the words of Jesus in Matthew 25: “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink…I was sick and you looked after me.”
What would you like to say to the people who are praying for you or are giving financial support?
I give huge thanks to you on behalf of these families for not forgetting us, and standing with us long-term. Even though the situation is difficult and prolonged, I thank you that you have continued with us. Through your partnership, we are seeing beautiful results.