‘Apo’s afraid of losing me, too.’
It’s only been in the last three years that Apo and his mother have returned to their apartment. For the first three years after Rober disappeared and during the Battle of Aleppo, they lived with Rober’s family. In Aleppo where 71 percent of the population is Sunni Muslim, a single woman living on her own is often looked down upon, running the risk of harassment or even worse.
In Apo’s life, his father’s absence has played out in several ways. After Rober was taken, Apo was so traumatized he didn’t speak at all for the first three years. When he did begin talking, he had difficulty.
He also lives with the fear of losing another parent. Every night before bedtime, Apo tells his mother, “Good night, I love you so much, but don’t leave me. Tomorrow morning I will wake up and you will wake up with me, too, and you will kiss me.”
“Because he lost his father,” Jina says, “he’s afraid of losing me, too.”
‘To know about Jesus’
Fortunately, Apo lives in an area where Open Doors has partnered with local churches to open one of several Centers of Hope in Syria and Iraq. He and his mother regularly come to the Alliance Church’s Good Shepherd Center, which distributes food packages to the neediest families. Apo’s family is one of those.
In addition to food, the church is practically supporting the family by providing gallons of diesel gas—help that is essentially a lifeline for the young family.
“Life without that help would be suffering,” Jina explains. “If the church wouldn’t help me, that would be tyranny [I would suffer a lot].”
The Center’s various ministries and outreaches are also helping Jina and Apo find hope and peace through the church’s Friday night children’s activities and Sunday school.
“Apo often asks me, ‘When will it be Friday?’” Jina says. “When I ask him why, he says, ‘to know about Jesus.’ He loves, loves, loves being there. He loves singing with the gestures. When he comes home, I ask him what he learned and he tells me the verse they learned from the Bible.”
Smiling, Jina says she sees Rober in her young son’s words and actions. “I see very, very much of Rober in Apo’s character. He is so smart. I see it in how he is taking care of me. He says, ‘Mom you’re so compassionate towards me, I love you so much, don’t leave me.’ And when I get ill, he brings everything next to me, he takes good care of me.”
Because of the church’s provision and involvement in their lives, Apo and his mother are growing in their faith. In the midst of unimaginable grief and uncertainty, they continue to trust in Jesus. They illustrate Micah 6:8 well, showing us what it looks like to “act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God.”
“Everyone asks me how I manage as a single woman to take care of my son,” Jina says. “My faith in God is very big. In the morning when I wake up, I pray to Jesus. I thank Him that he is giving me a new, beautiful day and then I say to Him, ‘O Lord as you like, may Your will be done, O Lord, I just ask you to return my husband safe and sound.’”
Often, Apo asks his mother what she’s reading in her Bible then asks her to read it to him, too. “I try to explain it to him from what I understand. I want to raise my son righteously, that he knows what is in the Bible and to teach him to live as a Christian who loves Jesus.”