Christians Facing Nightmare in Homs; Thousands Forced to Flee
Already traumatized by the deadly clashes between government forces and protestors in the months since the Arab Spring of 2011, Syrian Christians are facing increased persecution from the pro-democracy rebel groups. Many Christians had already fled the embattled city to escape the ongoing conflict. In recent months, however, thousands of the remaining Christians have been forced to abandon their homes, jobs and possessions by the Sunni Muslim rebels who have taken over much of the city of Homs, Syria.
According to Open Doors’ sources, Christians report visits from rebels informing them that they are taking over the area and the believers must leave. Families gather whatever they can carry and make the perilous journey out of Homs through government checkpoints. Host families in cities throughout Syria have opened their homes to the refugees and local churches are scrambling to meet the needs of these displaced brothers and sisters. The burden of housing and feeding nearly 35,000 people is overwhelming for churches throughout Syria. Crowded into their temporary host homes, the displaced families face mounting challenges as they search for work, try to get their children into new schools and deal with the emotional toll of the conflict and forced exodus.
Open Doors is providing emergency relief packages, food and medical aid to help the overwhelmed Syrian Christian community. “You (Open Doors) make it possible that we can stay,” a Syrian woman who recently fled Homs said with a big smile on her face just after she received a relief package in a church building. In addition to providing relief to fellow believers, many Christians have chosen to see the current conflict as a chance to share the gospel with their communities.
Syria ranked 36th on the 2012 World Watch List of the 50 countries in which Christians experience the most persecution this year, up from 38th last year. Syrian Christians had enjoyed relative peace and religious tolerance under the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, but have experienced a rise in persecution as the anti-al-Assad Sunni and Salafi Muslim groups have gained power throughout the country.
Father in heaven, Your people throughout history have experienced exile and displacement at the hands of their enemies. In the midst of confusion and uncertainty, You are the source of stability, purpose and provision. We ask that You would be all of those things for our brothers and sisters in Syria who are struggling to deal with the loss of their homes, possessions, jobs and communities. What Satan intended for evil to bring tension and confusion to the church in Syria, please transform for good: make Your people a light wherever they go and grant them peace that passes understanding. Give Your church boldness to share the truth with their friends and neighbors during these uncertain times and out of the scattering seeds of persecution bring a harvest of revival such as Syria has never seen! In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.