Of an estimated population of 17 million in Syria, 11 million have either left the country or been internally displaced by the civil war which entered its 5th year on March 15. That is the day in 2011 when protests began in Deraa and quickly spiraled down into civil war. About 4.5million have left Syria entirely; for many others who are still there, there are new beginnings with new opportunities, both in business and in living out their faith. As the world awaits the impact of this month’s peace talks, we pause to consider life for Christians who remain in Syria and take heart a few of the stories of enterprising Christians who have created work opportunities for those who stay on in the war-torn country.
The opening of a factory is usually a sign of renewed confidence in the economy; in Syria it’s a necessity driven by a need to reverse the destruction caused by five years of civil war. Thirty people in Aleppo are now newly employed in a furniture factory that opened in February. It’s hoped that a paying job will stop their families from leaving the city like so many others have. The idea for the factory came from a local Orthodox priest. After drawing up a convincing business plan, he found a private partner and now its business prospects look good. The factory even has international orders on its books.
In August 2015 last year a pharmacy opened—a vital new business in another besieged city in Syria. Again backed by church funding, it provides discounted medicines to the elderly and vulnerable.
The lack of a water supply is a huge challenge for people in Aleppo. The water in most wells is not safe to drink; sanitation experts think this may have been behind an outbreak of infections and skin allergies.
A church group decided to create a new well. Local authority approval helped them overcome some of the challenges. “We got approval to dig much deeper than the usual hundred meters. We chose this depth because hundred meter wells can dry up during the year and deeper wells guarantee a continuous provision of water,” said a representative from the church. It took six weeks of digging to reach the required depth; after that, a company installed the pump and filters to create water storage.” The well should produce 10,000 liters of water each day, to serve 500 families.
Father God, as these Syrian Christians look beyond earthly hopelessness to sure hope in Christ, we give thanks for their Spirit-given resiliency in finding solutions to these temporal needs. Thank Your for Your church that has encouraged and assisted them, and for Your Holy Spirit in bringing about favor in their work. We pray that these ventures will go beyond encouragement in the Christian community to bring hope for to their neighbors beyond, and that many will look in awe at the merciful and gracious Christ who shines through them. Continue to pour out Your sustaining grace and blessing on these brothers and sisters in faith, precious and beloved to the Christ, whom they serve and in whose glorious name we pray, Amen.