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Prayers for the Middle East: the Syria crisis continues

“Everyone I speak to says that this is a very, very ugly war, where torture is being used as a weapon, where they are trying to generate fear and where children are not being spared,” says Philip Halliday, BMS Regional Team Leader for Europe, the Middle East and North Africa.

“And I think, with a horrible effectiveness, children are being hurt in order that their parents will lose hope and A young Syrian refugee child in al Marj village in Lebannon's Beka'a Valley. (Credit: Christina Malkoun IRIN)energy – who would have the strength to carry on fighting if they thought that their children were being tortured or hurt or killed? I think the idea is to break the adults by breaking the children.

“We need to pray against that. We need pray that this war will come to an end.”

There are now over 750,000 registered Syrian refugees in Lebanon (UNHCR), with many more afraid to even register. The majority of these refugees are living in appalling circumstances, in skeletons of buildings with no protection from the elements, or in tents. Thousands are entirely reliant on aid from local churches.

On his recent trip to Lebanon, Philip visited Pastor Jihad Haddad at True Vine Baptist Church in the Bekaa Valley, who has been distributing food packages to Syrian refugees with BMS support, and BMS partner the Lebanese Society for Educational and Social Development (LSESD). Visiting these people and seeing the impact the devastating war in Syria is having on Lebanon, Philip was inspired by the Lebanese Church which is responding with sacrificial love despite the longstanding animosity between Syrians and Lebanese.

“You look on in admiration at the Christian people in Lebanon,” says Philip. “You think, what if this was happening in my church in France, or in my sending church in England? What would it be like if there were suddenly 6,000 refugees arriving every day in Hertfordshire? And I guess it is one of those situations where you don’t really know.

“But the Scriptures tell us that the Lord will give grace according to need – and certainly he has given grace for the Lebanese people. They’re just trying to respond to what life has thrown at them; trusting that God’s hand is in this and making themselves available to be used by the Lord in an unforeseen but powerful way.

“The Church is right now, in Lebanon and Syria, a place of compassion, a place of refuge and a place of indiscriminate generosity where people are not taking sides.”

Lebanon and Syria are being scarred by this very sad war. But the perception of the Christian Church in these countries is also changing – as it responds without discrimination or agenda to the Syrian war and the humanitarian crisis.

“Please pray that, in the heat of this action, God would continue to give wisdom, stamina and strength to the churches,” says Philip, “and that, in God’s grace, the perception of the Christian Church will be altered because of what the Church has done in this conflict.”

Millions have been affected by the conflict in Syria – they’ve lost their loved ones, been forced to flee their homes and are living in terrible conditions. BMS World Mission has a Syria appeal to help it stand alongside the Church in Syria and Lebanon as it seeks to love those who have lost everything.

This article first appeared on the website of BMS World Mission and is used with permission

Picture credit: Christina Malkourn IRIN A young Syrian refugee child in al Marj village in Lebanon’s Beka’a Valley
Sarah Stone, 13/12/2013
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