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Syrian Christian Under Siege Need Our Prayers

February 6, 2013 by Open Doors in General

Syrian Christians Under Siege Need Our Prayers

As the international community watches in growing concern, the death toll continues to rise in Syria. According to a United Nations report in early January, more than 60,000 people – including government troops, members of the Free Syria Army (rebel forces), and innocent civilians – have been killed in the conflict. One rebel agency claims that more than 3,500 children are among the dead, but that is not confirmed by the U.N.

Adding to the confusion and distress, the U.N. estimates that more than 1.2 million Syrians have been internally displaced as of Jan.2nd. The U.N. High Commission for Refugees also reports approximately 700,000 additional Syrians have fled the country into places such as Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq. The mass exodus volume has increased rapidly in recent weeks. The Associated Press reported that last week a wave of 21,000 Syrians moved into overcrowded and often dangerous camps in northern Jordan.

In addition to those in the camps, four million Syrians who are still inside the country need food, shelter, and other aid, according to the U.N.

The overwhelming numbers and facts, however, do little to reveal the individual sufferings-the grief, the tears, the broken hearts of those who are mourning dead, the anxiety over missing or fleeing family members, and the lack of food, shelter and clothing in the freezing winter – of those still in Syria and in the refugee camps outside the country. Syrians are struggling to cope with another “Arab Winter,” both literally and figuratively.

A pastor from Damascus has a hole in each of his church suits. It’s the result of a stray bullet passing through the house when the family wasn’t home. According the Christian Post, life in Syria has become increasingly difficult since the civil war started. There is danger all around from both government and rebel troops. Also, due to the international boycott of the country, there are food and gasoline shortages, soaring prices, and electricity cuts. Christians, who make up approximately 10 percent of the population, face extra difficulties such as kidnappings threats, as well as harassment from Islamic extremists for allegedly supporting President Assad, whose regime allowed Christians a degree of freedom to worship. 

Despite Syria’s Christian history, the Christian Post relates that some Islamic Syrians tell Christian Syrians to “go back to their own country.” They believe that Christians belong in the western world. Some neighborhoods have been entirely taken over by Salafists (radical Islamists), who now rule in Homs and parts of Aleppo with the extreme guidelines of Sharia Law. A pastor said that he has seen people walking around without hands, probably because they have stolen something. Under Sharia Law, that is usually the penalty for theft. 

With the sounds of war outside their home creating a distressing lullaby, the pastor tucks his two young daughters into bed every night, and tries to prepare them for what could happen. “If a bomb explodes, you might see a lot of blood, and it might hurt a little, but if we die, we will close our eyes here and reopen them in heaven,” he tells them. At school his children check the bins of their schools for bombs every morning before they go into class. His wife testifies that, “God has saved us many times by showing us the location of bombs so they could be disarmed.” 

Though Christians are receiving little support from inside or outside the country, the pastor sees the blessings God gives them even in the midst of the chaos. “If there is no earthly thing to trust in, you have to trust in God and this is what He teaches us to do through this difficult situation.” Even in this time of death and destruction, his church has been a refuge for both Christians and non-Christians. Women whose husbands have left to fight in the war have come to the church to hear the gospel and pray. 

“We have been praying and fasting for a church of our denomination to open in Homs for many years,” he explains. “But God had other plans. He sent the people of Homs to our church and the revival is happening right here. They renewed their faith in the midst of this crisis.” 

Those forced to flee their homes have lost everything – their sources of income, schooling for their children, and access to medical care. Open Doors is partnering with churches in Syria and is helping to strengthen their chances of survival, praying that this will encourage Christians to stay in the country. “It’s important the church stays in Syria,” he stresses. “If the church leaves Syria, Syria will be spiritually destroyed. God has saved us so far, so we are still needed,” he says. “If we keep praying, God will do something incredible. This is what we all feel.” 

Father, we lift up before Your face our brothers and sisters in Syria who are suffering now in the midst of civil war as well as persecution. Strengthen them to remain strong in their faith. We pray that the situation in Syria will change for the better soon, for all the refugees, for the traumatized and for the children who want to go to school but can’t. Pray also for relief workers to safely bring in supplies, the Word of God and hope for a better future. In the name of Jesus, our refuge in the battle. Amen.

Source: Christian Post

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