Syrian Christian Mother – Should I Leave or Stay in the Country?
(Hanna is a Christian woman living in Damascus, Syria, with her husband. She and her husband have two young daughters. Hanna works in a school. Hanna tells us what daily life is like in Damascus.)
The schools have started again, so we get back to the uncertainty. We are getting up very early to pray and fast whenever our daughters are not at home. Every day when I walk to the school I work at I hold my breath; every minute something can happen. Many streets are closed and when you walk the streets you see the traces of the battle: little fires all over the streets. Also in our house you see the traces of the war: we already noticed a bullet hole in our guest room, but recently I also discovered one in the room of my girls.
A few days ago when I passed one of the churches on the street I saw a man on the phone in front of it. I don’t know what it was, but somehow I felt that there was something wrong. I overheard him talking on the phone, he said: “Aim close and very near to the main door of the church. I am here now, aim exactly at this place.” When I came home I told my husband: “They are going to attack that church, I know it.” My husband thought I was wrong, but half an hour later we heard that the church was attacked by a mortar. It wasn’t the first church that was attacked. In fact attacks on churches happen a lot now. They are also targeting Christians. Many of them are killed or kidnapped. When they are kidnapped they ask their families for ransom or they force them to convert to Islam.
Women are often raped. The people that return from such events are traumatized. One of the men I know that came back from a kidnapping didn’t speak a word since he came back. He is crying a lot. Nobody knows what happened to him.
People wonder why I am still staying in this country. I ask myself the same question time after time. As a mother and as a wife I want to leave, but as a Christian I want to stay. Every time my husband and I pray, God gives us a burden on our heart: stay in Syria. He has things to do for us here. God will bless Syria, know this for sure. He is already blessing us. Every time we go to church, the church is full; people come together in times of despair.
We also see new faces every time. Many of the new faces are people with a Muslim background who are refugees. They say: “We’ve lost everything: our house, our job, family members. But we have gained the most important thing: the knowledge that Jesus is our Savior.” Recently 30 people in our church were baptized. Three or four of them were from a Muslim background. The situation is hard, but we are living by faith.
Nationalist Hindu Group Threatens Believers – World Watch Monitor http://www.worldwatchmonitor.org/2013/10/article_2748705.html
For much of the year, Christians in the central Indian village of Taragaon have been enduring pressure to abandon their religion. In April, elements of Bajrang Dal demolished the church in Taragaon, a small town in the farming and forestry-dominated region of southern Chhattisgarh state. Bajrang Dal is the militant youth wing of the Hindu nationalist Vishwa Hindu Parishad, or VHP. Bajrang Dal goals include preventing “fraudulent or forceful conversion” of Hindus to any other religion. Their church destroyed, the Christians of Taragaon moved their worship meetings into the homes of believers. The Bajrang Dal followed them. On Sept. 22, Mitko Kashyap, 60, was confronted by her nephew for attending a house worship service. He hit her multiple times, she said, as she refused to deny her faith. Ultimately, he struck her on the head with a rock, causing injuries that required hospitalization.
“Kashyap’s daughter-in-law was also attacked by the same man, but she managed to escape,” said a staff member for Open Doors International, a ministry that provides support to Christians who are pressured because of their faith. Police initially declined to register a complaint against the attacker, calling the incident a family matter, according to Open Doors. They registered the complaint after hospital management summoned police to the hospital to see Kashyap’s condition. No arrests have been made. Early this month, members of Bajrang Dal paraded Hindu idols by the houses of Christian believers. Using loudspeakers, they ordered the Christians to come out of their homes to worship the idols, according to Open Doors.
“They are threatening us that they will drag each one out of our homes, beat us and kill us if we did not come out of our homes,” the ministry quoted a village resident as saying. “In this atmosphere of fear and pressure, we do not know whom to turn to for help,” the resident said. “The police are biased and do nothing to protect the Christians.”
(For more information or to set up interviews, call Jerry Dykstra at 616-915-4117 or email [email protected]