‘A GLIMPSE OF HOPE IN A HOPELESS SITUATION’ – CHURCH OUTREACH TO KIDS MAKES IMPACT IN ALEPPO
For over four years, Syria has been going through a bloody and destructive civil war. From Aleppo, Pastor Samuel (his real name protected for security reasons), reports regularly to provide insight into the daily lives of Syrians:
A few weeks ago, the parents of a 12-year-old girl and a 7-year-old boy came to me very frustrated. They described their family life as hell. The father lost his workshop because of the war and has been jobless for more than three years. They have no income at all. Their children insist they should leave Aleppo and pursue a life in a more peaceful place. The family quarrels out of frustration every day. The parents and their children can’t understand the feelings of each other.
When the war began, the children were very young. They spent most of their early childhood within the safety of their home and only attended school during rare calm moments in Aleppo, one of the most violent cities in the country. The children are living without friends since most of their classmates have left Syria.
The two children are unable to sleep, especially when there were no lights on during the night. Most nights in Aleppo are spent in darkness because there is only one hour of electricity per day and that hour is during daytime. The children often have nightmares about extremists coming and killing them. In addition to emotional trauma, the children also suffer from malnutrition. Several times the parents said: “We wish we weren’t married and didn’t have children. Instead of being a blessing, the children are a burden on us. We are unable to communicate with them.”
I suggested they let the children attend our church Sunday school. Then, at least once a week, they could meet in the church with other children who live in similar circumstances. There they could sing, listen to Bible stories and play indoors with other children. We even offer the children a nutritional hot meal. We also provide them with Bibles and food parcels whenever possible.
The parents were able to convince their children to attend. Some weeks later, the parents came to me and said: “Pastor, it was a blessing for us and our children to attend the daily Bible camp. Before, our children were unable to sleep and they never prayed. Now, they are reading Bible stories and are praying every night. Their hope is in God. We want to thank God and the church for the food parcel as well. A smile has entered our home and our children now laugh sometimes, especially when they go to church. Praise the Lord because you are giving us a glimpse of hope in a hopeless situation.”
Four Million Syrians Have Fled the Country
Last week the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) said that four million Syrians have fled their country to escape the current conflict.
The head of the UN’s refugee agency, Antonio Guterres, called it the “worst humanitarian crisis of our generation.”
Syria’s civil war has left more than 230,000 dead. The UNHCR says there are at least 7.6 million people displaced inside Syria. In November 2014 Open Doors said that 700,000 Christians had left the country. Christians make up about 10 percent of Syria’s 22 million people, the BBC reported. Syria is ranked #4 on Open Doors’ 2015 World Watch List (www.worldwatchlist.us) of the 50 worst persecutors of Christians.
Open Doors President/CEO David Curry told the Christian Post in a phone interview last week that refugees in northern Iraq and Syria are facing “huge food shortages,” with close to 300,000 Christians having limited means by which to pay for food. With millions of people displaced across the region, Open Doors estimates that $20 million will be needed to provide food for the refugees in the next 18 months. Curry said that one of his biggest concerns is that Christians “will be the last” among the refugees to receive vitally needed help,” and called on Christians around the world to partner with Open Doors in order to remind those who are suffering that they are not forgotten.
Compiled by Jerry Dykstra. For media inquiries, contact Christine Cape at 404-545-0085 or Christy Lynn Wilson at 770-401-9842.