Church Scouts in Syria at a cross
Church Scout groups in Syria may be the most important tool the Churches in Syria have in engaging teenagers with the Gospel, and making them active in society. Open Doors supports these activities in several cities in Syria. George (17): “During the entire war, through the Scout groups, the Church has been close to us teenagers.”
Scout groups. They exist in many countries, but in the Middle East something extraordinary is going on: many Scout groups in countries like Syria, Iraq, Jordan and the Palestinian Territories are founded and run by churches. So, they are not just about young people having fun, exploring nature and doing good deeds for society, they are also the place where many teenagers learn more about the Bible and commit to follow Christ.
In war-torn Syria, we speak to three teenagers from Aleppo who testify how attending Church Scout groups has made a huge difference for their faith during the civil war.
George：Nine years of love, giving and serving
17-year old George shares how he joined his church’s Scout group nine years ago. “For me, they are a family which I have been living with for nine years”, he says. “Nine years of love, giving and serving.”
One of the most defining moments for George as a Church Scout was a faith contest, where he learned more about the Bible. “After that, I wanted to go to Church and read the Bible more and more. Thanks to the Scouts, I now really feel part of the Church and I don’t want to miss out on a single service.”
During the last six years, Syria has been plagued by a civil war. “During that entire time, through the Scout groups, the Church has been close to us teenagers”, George says. “They were our pillar during these six years of war, supporting us, and working non-stop to serve the youth.”
Scouts as the Church’s hands and feet in society
The Scout groups in Syrian churches are open to kids and teenagers in the age 5-19. They focus on spiritual, social, educational, physical, personal and emotional development. The older teenagers are also trained in developing leadership skills.
During big events in the Church, like Palm Easter and Christmas, the scouts help organize the meetings. But they are also the hands and feet of the church in society. For example, recently, now the battles in and around Aleppo have ended, the Scouts helped to paint the sidewalks in the city in fresh, bright colours. But they also organize sport events, plays, talent shows and camps where the youth study the Bible and are encouraged to commit to the faith.
They are also involved in social activities like visiting people in hospital and helping the elderly with getting the medication they need.
Noel: Learning to be compassionate
Noel (17) shares how his involvement in the Scout group changed him. “I learned there to be respectful and compassionate and – most important – to take responsibility for others.”
When war broke out, many of Noel’s friends left the country. The Scout group filled that gap for him. “They play a big role in my life, they made me stronger. Because of the Scouts, I was able to persist during the war. I know now that I cannot leave my Scout group or my church because they’re my second family.”
Youssef: Laughing together and standing together
Also for Youssef (16) the scouts are like his second family. “These people are close to me. Whatever happens; we will stay together as one body. We laugh together and we stand with each other.”
Youssef has been part of the scouts for three years now and feels more and more committed. “We learn about new subjects, are getting new ideas and because of that I began to notice things changing in my life. Especially after the winter camp, last year. There, I started to believe in God. Since then, I am truly convinced that God exists and He is with us, helping us with every step.”
- Children and the youth are the most affected groups under the fighting and chaos that’s happening in the Middle East. Pray that they will have an intimate relationship with the Lord even at an early age, and feel His presence close to them as they grow up.
- For God to provide resources for the churches and Scout groups in the Middle East, so that more young people will be blessed.
- That the church will have the strength and grace to display Christ’s compassion and faithfulness in a place where there is so much hatred and enmity.
Continue to uphold the persecuted church worldwide, so that the church can stand strong in the midst of difficulties and shine for the Lord.
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