Persecuted Syrian Christians open up: Read and Share!

Syria (ODM/MNN) — It’s easy to get overwhelmed
by Syria’s never-ending struggles:

image

A four-year civil war
The ISIS crisis
The 3 million Syrian people now living
as refugees in neighboring nations
The 6.5 million internally-displaced
people eking out an existence within
Syria’s borders
But today, Open Doors USA is sharing good news.
With the help of Open Doors donors, Syrian
Christians are caring for the spiritual and physical
needs of more than 2,000 refugee families.
In 2011, when the Syrian crisis began, indigenous
believers could only help 16 families!
“I give huge thanks to [donors] on behalf of these
families for not forgetting us and standing with us
long-term,” Pastor Boutros* recently told Open
Doors.
“Even though the situation is difficult and
prolonged, I thank you that you have continued
with us. Through your partnership, we are seeing
beautiful results.”
Open Doors staff details those “beautiful results”
in a series of recent interviews. We’ve compiled
some of the highlights for you below:
What is the mood of the people in your area in
Syria?
Boutros: “There is a new desire by the people to
flee and leave the country; the people don’t have
hope that things will get better. This feeling is
increasing. I know hope is only in Christ, so you
can imagine how tired the people are who don’t
know Christ.”
What is your church doing to help the people?
Boutros: “We have complete faith that God who
has helped us in Syria for the past four years will
help us in 2015. In the beginning we were helping
16 families; now we are supporting 2,180 families
with your support.
“We support families in 10 cities. The majority of
the people we are working with are not Christians.
The people face real poverty because have they
lost their homes, jobs, and some of them lost their
parents or children and whatever savings they had.
They depend on the support they get.
“The church today is like a tent that cares for
those beneath her. And she is like a hospital that
cares for those inside. And the most important
thing is that the church is like a family for those
who feel strange inside their own country.”
What are you doing to support the families?
Boutros: “We do monthly food distribution. We visit
them in the places they stay and see what they
have, and we see what they need. We have a
relationship with the people–there is real
communication between us. We are not just giving
food or cash. During the visits, the people hear the
Gospel. We also visit the sick; we pray for them
and try to help with their medical needs.
“I see that having this relationship with the people
is the solution to the problems in Syria. Peace
comes only through Jesus. When people hear and
experience the problems, they want revenge, but
the church is doing the work of reconciliation.
“We are also bringing this message through all the
programs and activities. For example, we are now
holding lectures once a month in the church
building where we bring in doctors to talk about
different diseases.
“I am very happy with what God is doing and to
see that in a time of war and tragedy. The church
is offering something entirely different: joy and
hope. People are praying and going out in the
streets. I pray with them to commit their lives to
Christ. I see people who were in despair and have
hope again. We are seeing how happy and joyful
people are because someone came and visited
them and asked about them. This is even more
important than the food. The people appreciate that
we are knocking on the doors asking what they
need.”
Achmad* is another Syrian Christian who shared
his story with Open Doors. He grew up in Daraa —
the city where protests began in 2011 — but has
since fled for his safety.
Tell about the beginning of the protests four years
ago.
Achmad: “Before March 2011 Daraa was a
peaceful place and an interesting place to live. It
was peaceful, and the situation was good.
Christians lived in some fear, with the Islamic
threat all around us, but we led a simple and
peaceful life.
“One day after the revolution in Egypt, Syrians in
Daraa started to think why not revolt against the
government? Some youth wanted a strike, saying,
‘We want the president (Bashar Assad) out.’ First,
this all went peaceful; they only shouted and
screamed. Not that the government should go, but
only for freedom. After those first days, they
started to think they could ask for more. It was a
simple start.”
How did the church look at the protests in those
early days?
Achmad: “Christians in Syria were in doubt what to
do. The church was silent during the first days.
After the bombings and the blood, the church took
up a role in helping people and providing food to
the displaced. I can assure you that we did not
know during these first days that the war would
become as bad as it is.
“After some days of only shouting on the street,
the shooting started. With blood on the streets, it
became easy to kill someone. My father said, ‘This
will never finish.’”
Did you lose loved ones?
Achmad: “Many friends of mine were killed. Every
time I remember my colleagues of school, it is
hard to believe that they are gone. We lived
together and ate together; now they are dead just
for being on the streets. One of the friends that
died was like a brother to me.”
What change did the war bring for the Church in
Daraa?
Achmad: “Before the war, people in the church, of
course, believed in Christ. But it was hard for non-
Christians to become a Christian. With the war, it is
easier to visit a church as a non-Christian and to
pray with a non-Christian. The war shakes the
people. They start thinking about right and wrong,
and people think about God more and more.
“It’s easier to invite persons to church. As the
church distributes aid, people ask: ‘Why do people
help us? Why do you help me? I am a Muslim.’ I
said, ‘Jesus loves you, and I love you because He
loves you.’”
What should Christians in the West pray for?
Achmad: “First, pray for a peaceful government.
Pray for the people who live in misery. Pray that
God will stop the killing and bloodshed. Pray for a
new Syria.”
* = pseudonym
MNNONLINE.ORG

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