SANTA ANA, Calif. (March 18, 2013) – In the midst of the horrible Syrian civil war, Open Doors and its church partners are putting warm clothes on needy children.
For three long months this winter, children of a church in Aleppo have had to stay at home with the sounds of war going on around their houses. Many schools are closed and going to church is dangerous. Christians in Aleppo are sometimes the target of deliberate attacks, but more often they suffer from the general chaos and violence in the city because of the bloody war.
With the help of Open Doors, the church organized a special day for the children. Behind the chairs, big piles of clothes were waiting for new owners. Parents sorted through the sweaters and jackets, holding them up to find a suitable size for each of their children. Open Doors made sure all the 200 children went home with a new set of clothes. And while the parents were busy, the kids enjoyed singing Christian songs and a puppet show.
The organizers feel blessed to see so many families coming out of their houses for one afternoon and thinking a little less about the worries of the conflict – which has reportedly claimed 70,000 lives. “We really felt the presence of God today,” said one leader.
Four years ago Open Doors started working inside Syria with an outreach to Iraqi Christian refugees, which included biblical training, distribution of relief supplies and trauma counseling. The outreach provided Open Doors with a unique network of church contacts as the Syrian civil war broke out two years later and Christians were specifically targeted in midst of the general horrors of war. As of last December, Open Doors estimated 20,000-25,000 Christian families had left their homes for other places either inside Syria or for countries such as Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. An Open Doors contact in Syria says “bold attacks on Christians are increasing. And there are more kidnappings, too.”
Open Doors is hoping to enhance its outreach during 2013 by helping hundreds of families cope physically and spiritually with their uncertain situation. The Open Doors aid includes blankets, stoves, heating fuel, medicines and hygiene kits as well as Bibles and spiritual training.
The campaign, called “Displaced Peoples Project,” has also targeted countries such as Egypt, South Sudan, Nigeria, Mali, Laos and Iraq, as displacement of Christians is a worldwide problem. Thousands of Christians are being forced to leave their original family homes and villages due to persecution and ravages of war.
“The focus of this project is to embrace uprooted believers, not only in Syria, but also around the world,” says Open Doors USA spokesman Jerry Dykstra. “Thousands of Christians are being forced from their homes, churches, schools and places of work. They find themselves completely destitute and face an uncertain future.
“Your gifts and prayers will equip and strengthen our brothers and sisters in Christ and at the same time enable those being dislocated to remain salt and light in their regions or in refugee camps in other countries.”
For more information and to support the campaign with your gifts, go to http://www.opendoorsusa.org/displaced.
For almost 60 years Open Doors has worked in the world’s most oppressive and restrictive countries, strengthening Christians to stand strong in the face of persecution and equipping them to shine Christ’s light in these places. Open Doors empowers persecuted Christians by supplying Bibles and Christian literature, training Christian leaders, facilitating social/economic projects and uniting believers in the West in prayer for Christians, who are the most persecuted religious group in the world and are oppressed in at least 60 countries. To partner with Open Doors USA, call toll free at 888-5-BIBLE-5 (888-524-2535) or go to our website at www.OpenDoorsUSA.org.
(For more information or to set up an interview, contact Emily Fuentes at 949-413-6721 or email [email protected]).