Pastor Abdalla shows a photo of his church youth group from before the war, only three remain in Syria.
Life for Syria’s Christians is pressured on every side. What would you do? Would you stay or would you go? Here are five good reasons to leave. And one to stay.
1. Are you really safe? The Islamic State has been defeated but their extremist ideology lives on. Recent fighting in northern Syria is a reminder of how volatile the situation is in the region. Jina’s husband Rober was kidnapped six years ago – taken off his bus because he was a Christian. She hasn’t seen him since.
2. Most of your friends have left. Pastor Abdalla in Aleppo shows a photo of his church youth group from before the war. Of the 40 people in this photo, only three remain in Syria. The others have left for Australia, Europe, North America – searching for a better life.
3. You need two to three jobs to survive. Most people earn less than $80 a month, but a family needs $400 a month to survive. Those who are ill, old, or don’t have a breadwinner, depend on the church’s help to survive.
4. You have to live with your extended family in a tiny flat. You lost your house in the war. Half of your city is destroyed. The only way to make a living is to live all together: parents, grandparents, siblings, grandchildren.
5. You can’t get married. You can’t afford to get married even if you could find somewhere to live, which you can’t. And anyway, you’re too busy working.
SO WHY DO CHRISTIANS STAY?
To be a light in the darkness. During the recent fighting on the border, Pastor George took in families whose homes had been destroyed. He gave out emergency food and he prayed to calm the children’s fears. He was able to do this because he decided to stay, and because he knew he had the support of his global church family.
Pastor Abdalla stayed to serve his community in Aleppo throughout the war – although he had plenty of opportunity to leave. As a pastor he was particularly at threat from extremists.
Now his church is a Centre of Hope, providing medical care, emergency food packs and fuel aid to help families like Jina’s survive the winter. The church also offers training to help women start a business to provide for their families.
There are more than 2,000 families in need – but Abdalla’s church can only provide relief packs to the 850 most vulnerable families.
HOPE FOR THE MIDDLE EAST
Open Doors’ seven-year Hope for the Middle East campaign is all about giving the church a long-term future in Syria and Iraq. Not just surviving – but positively contributing to society, building peace, reaching out to the needy. A light in the darkness.
It’s thanks to your longterm support and prayers that pastors like George and Abdalla are able to support the most vulnerable in their communities – and respond immediately when crises strike. They need their global church family to stand with them now as much as ever.
Give thanks for the 19 churches that are Centres of Hope delivering help to vulnerable people in Syria – and pray that Open Doors’ vision of opening another 20 can be achieved. Please pray for Pastors Abdalla, George and others like them, for protection and hope and the opportunity to share the light of Christ.