This Sunday as a church we focussed on the church in Syria which is suffering. For two thousand years there has been a church in Syria which has survived since the earliest days of Christianity. But now there is conflict, violence and persecution. The church is on its knees.
Before the civil war the church was respected. Although monitored by the secret police as long as Christians did not disturb communal harmony or pose a threat to the government they were tolerated and had freedom of worship. This has now changed since the start of the civil war.
During the second part of 2012 there has been a clear increase in the number of foreign jihadists entering the country. Open Doors have received reports of many Christians being abducted, physically harmed and killed. Many churches have been damaged or destroyed. The central government is losing its grip on the situation and tens of thousands of Christians have fled the country.
Though it is not easy to predict the outcome a change of government is expected to lead to a situation of anarchy and a struggle for power. If extremist Muslims obtain more power, they may seek revenge from the overall Christian silence and peaceful stand. These could mean that Christians will either be isolated or driven from the country en masse, as has already happened in Iraq.
If one part (of the body) suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honoured, every part rejoices with it ( 1 Corinthians 12: 16). We may not be suffering ourselves but as part of the body of Christ we have a responsibility to identify with the church in Syria and to help them in whatever way we can. One way we can do this is by getting involved in the Open Doors’ Save Syria campaign.
Pastor B from Tartus, Syria says:
“The church in the Middle East is sacrificing its people to witness positively to Muslims and its fellow countrymen. You have a role to not only help us reach out with food and medicine. You have a role to be advocates to your governments. “
“There are areas where Christians have been intentionally displaced. And once the Christians have left they have destroyed their homes, their churches and everything. This is a clear message that you are not welcome to come back again.”
“In one instance, there was a half-Christian, half-Muslim town. There were around 7,000 Christian families there. And from the minarets they were telling Christians to leave, otherwise they would be slaughtered one by one.”
Three young people. A priest. And about £5. Jesus’ miracle of multiplication inspired a small church in Aleppo to start relief work in their city, after seeing the hardship of their neighbours.
They made an assessment of the needs of Christians in their area. Then, says their church leader, “At night, we went into the church and prayed, putting all the assessments of the needs of the people under the cross, and gave them over to the care of the Lord Jesus. We asked Him to repeat what He had done when He multiplied the bread and fish. We put our trust in Him and in His commandments and went ahead.”
Thanks to the generosity of Open Doors supporters from the UK and Ireland, this church is now reaching over 1600 families. Every £70 given to Open Doors provides an emergency relief pack for a family of four to last a month – including food.
Despite their own suffering the church in Syria are helping those in need. Christians are risking their lives to bring relief to those who have stayed – and those who have had to flee their homes.
Pastor B has given his children’s shoes away to those in need. He has split relief packs in half to eke out their supplies. He told Open Doors staff: “I am talking to you, but my mind is somewhere else. I'm thinking that right now there is a child that needs food, or there is someone elderly who needs help, and I'm really struggling to know how can I get that to him.”
The church in Syria is on its knees. But it is not defeated. It is praying. AND THEY’RE ASKING US TO JOIN THEM.
HOW CAN YOU HELP?
You can let the Syrian church know they are not forgotten, that they are supported by Christians in the UK and Ireland.
• SPEAK OUT
By signing the global petition – get as many names as possible. Get the word out.
Give to Open Doors through BFC to support Syrian churches providing food, medicine, shelter and spiritual support to displaced Syrian families.
Keep praying for Syria as we did on Sunday.
• For peace and an end to bloodshed and violence
• For Christians to have the strength to remain in Syria and be a light to their nation
• For those bereaved or displaced from their homes
• For the vulnerable – children, the elderly, the sick or injured
• For Open Doors workers and partners providing emergency relief to those in desperate need.
You can also sign up to www.opendoorsuk.org/savesyria
to receive the latest campaign updates by email and check out the other prayer resources available online.