Young Syrian Christians Explain Why They Didn’t Flee the War
*representative image used
“This is the place God has given me to be.” A young, Syrian Christian explaining why she stayed in her country. Many have stayed even after their families and closest friends left Syria, many of whom were very active in church. We asked ten Syrian Christians between the ages of 19 and 35, from various regions, about the impact of the exodus of Christians on their church, and also what motivated them to stay in a country that has already spent five years in civil war.
Do you know of people who left the country?
They are all unanimous in this: “A lot of young people I know from our church have emigrated. They left with their families; this has happened a lot during the last year.”
Do you have an idea of what percentage of your church has left the country?
The figures they mention differ. There is one who says forty percent. All others mention figures around fifty to seventy percent.
Do you expect them to come back to Syria when the war is over?
Almost all say that they don’t think they will return. “I hope they will and I would like to answer ‘yes’, but honestly, speaking from a more practical point of view, no, they won’t come back.”
What impact does people leaving have on the church?
“The impact migration has on the church is definitely a negative one,” responds one. “The number of youth involved in the church services is becoming fewer, and there are fewer families who are supporting church activities.”
Why did you stay?
“I stay because this is the place God gave to me to be,” says Fadi*, a Christian in Aleppo. “I feel I have been given a mission to stay in the country,” adds Mariane*. “I have something to do on this earth, in this country,” Sarah* says in agreement.
Has the church started doing new/different things since the crisis began?
“Yes, the church started to take care of families in need. Providing food and other items for daily living, but also helping with the rent of their houses and medical care,” one of them says. “My church opened centers and started income generating projects,” another adds.
Is the church in any way a support for you to stay?
Almost all ten respond positively. “The church is definitely a support. Especially as a moral support. The church is the reason for our survival.”
How do you see the hand of God in your life and in your church in the midst of the crisis?
“He is protecting my family and church and allowing the church to do its activities in spite of the crisis,” responds Tateos*.
How could Christians around the world support you to stay in Syria?
“By sharing about the suffering of Christians in Syria and by financially supporting families who have lost everything during this war time,” one answers. Another mentions that Christians around the world could put pressure on their governments to stop all forms of support to armed groups that make the war go on. “They could continue giving support to set up development projects and income generating projects and to give psychological support. The church can certainly support us through prayer. That always reminds us that we are not alone.”
*Names changed for security reasons