STAY OR LEAVE? THAT IS THE QUESTION FOR MANY SYRIAN CHRISTIANS
For over four years, Syria has been going through a bloody and destructive war. From Aleppo, Pastor Samuel* (his real name protected due to security reasons) reports regularly to give an insight into what Syrians face on a daily basis. In the report below Samuel shares about a “normal” day in his city.
As usual my day started at five in the morning with reading the Bible, study, meditation and prayer. This morning my phone rang. It is unusual to receive a phone call that early. It was a young couple asking if they could visit me. The man is 42 and his wife 35. They have two boys, 12 and 10.
I welcomed them at my place. At the beginning they thanked me for my support and for the services of the church. They also thanked the church for trying to help them in their practical needs. They were grateful for the provision of books and other materials the children needed for school.
Then the husband said: “Pastor, we came to ask you to pray for a decision we made. We just sold our shop and I think we only got half of what the shop was worth. The money I received was what I needed to pay a smuggler to help me get out of Syria and go to Europe. Early morning tomorrow I am leaving to go to Lebanon and from Lebanon I will go to Turkey and then from Turkey to Greece on a boat. My goal is to reach Germany. We are here to ask you to pray for a safe journey.”
“What about your wife and the kids?” I asked.
“They will stay in Aleppo,” he replied. “I will do all the paperwork in Germany and when I get my refugee status I can ask them to join me. This will take a year. That’s fine. We have had enough suffering here.”
I was shocked. I pointed out the risks and dangers of this illegal way of traveling, especially crossing the sea. I stressed also the dangers for his wife and children to stay without him in the uncertainty of the city in war.
But both of them were certain about their decision. They see no hope for them in Aleppo, or in Syria. Typically, the husband leaves to prepare the way for the family.
When they asked me to pray, I struggled with the question of what to pray for. In a way, this encourages the smugglers in their dubious business. But I could pray for a safe trip for the man, and I could pray for the safety of the woman and her children. I prayed that both of them would trust the Lord and not put their trust in human beings during the trip and here in Aleppo.
They left the office. They made a tough decision. So many families struggle with the question of whether they should stay or leave.
Open Doors is helping Syrian Christians who have been displaced by Islamic State. To help feed a family for $50 a month, go to https://secure2.convio.net/ccod/site/Donation2?df_id=7560&7560.donation=form1&_ga=1.43211565.981393229.1378412015.
Compiled by Jerry Dykstra. For media inquiries, contact Christine Cape at 404-545-0085 or Katie Rouse at 678-410-9575.