For almost four years Syria has been going through a bloody and destructive civil war. From Aleppo, a pastor working in Syria’s biggest city reports regularly to give us insight into what Syrians face daily.
About 40 percent of the 1.8 million Christians who lived in Syria before the war have left the country because of the threatening situation in the country. Many Christians like Pastor Samuel (pseudonym) have stayed to serve their churches and to help the internally displaced persons (IDPs), as well as to let the light of the gospel shine.
Pastor Samuel shares about recent life there:
It was another tough week in my city. On December 26th, a day after Christmas, darkness started dominating Aleppo again. It was said that rebels hit the electric polls, once again cutting the city from electricity. Before, we had electricity for a short time each day, and then we had not a single minute. The electricity was cut for seven days until yesterday. When the electricity returned people, were cheering and shouting for joy as if Santa was distributing gifts!
It was very hard- so many days without any electricity. Refrigerators didn’t work; they were only used as a storage place for a week. We couldn’t use the washing machines to wash our clothes. People had to wash by hand as if they are living in another age. Before this week, people were happy to at least watch TV for the short period we had electricity; then, we had no more TV to hear news or watch something to change the mood of the people. On the one hand, the Christmas mood remained, but at the same time the suffering was increasing.
Besides the power cut, after two days, where people were still trying to prepare for the coming of the New Year, the water supply to the city was cut and this brought a very depressing situation to the people. We had to survive without water coming from the taps. This situation lasted for four days. Everyone’s main worries were how to find water to drink, shower and or wash dishes. Families were in a desperate situation. No electricity, no water, and no fuel to heat the homes during the very cold weather.
At night, families went to bed very early. Elderly people stayed in their beds even during the day as a solution to stay warm. Meanwhile, parents had problems keeping their children in their beds and providing them with water.
In the midst of all this, as you can imagine, our main challenge was how to help the families. Thank God that next to the church there is a well, and after managing to find some fuel to pump water from the well, we did our best to provide the neediest ones with water. People were bringing gallon containers for us to fill with water and they were carrying them to their homes.
This little bit of water was enough for them to stay hopeful. But then another tough situation occurred when rockets were fired on New Year’s Eve to the Christian residential areas. Because of that, we couldn’t celebrate New Year.
There were casualties here and there—some people died, many others were injured. Some people’s houses were damaged. So at the last evening of the year, people’s main focus was not the electricity, nor the water, not even the fuel to stay warm; the main problem was how to stay safe.
How does one stay safe when you have no means to secure your safety besides staying inside the apartments or houses and not going out? People are questioning why all this is happening; why they have to suffer when they are not harming anyone. They ask how long the situation will continue like this.
My wishes for the New Year and my answer to their questions come from Psalm 91. I tried to comfort them by assuring them that our Lord will continue to give us enough strength and patience to carry on and that His will shall be done.
Father, we bring before You these brothers and sisters in Syria, struggling daily just for survival. At times we, too, ask “why.” And yet as we look at their lives, and ours, we see Your presence in the midst of life’s chaos. Thank You for people like Pastor Samuel whom you have sent to minister to the suffering, to bring encouragement from Your Word, to provide water and other necessities to those without. We pray for these ones; that You will continue to provide warmth in the cold, food and water when electricity and water have been shut down, safety when rockets fall, and hope . . . hope for each day and hope for the life to come. In the name of Jesus, our Refuge and Fortress, Amen.