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Syria: praying for peace, praying for change

There are glimmers of hope amid the last four awful years, not least the response of the region's churches, some of which have been supported by BMS World Mission  


When you think of the situation in Syria, what comes to mind? Is it Islamic State, teenage girls travelling from the UK to be there, hostages being beheaded or worse? Or maybe you think of the destruction of war, with millions of refugees living in hard conditions in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey?

Four years after protesters hoped that Syria would be the next successful chapter in the Arab Spring, the country is mired in a winter of war that shows no sign of ending. More than 220,000 people have died and 10.9 million have been displaced. There are untold stories of brutal, traumatic suffering. There appear to be no easy solutions – different countries are backing different sides in the conflict with no clear way forward. Something needs to change, but how and when is uncertain.

And yet, underneath the rubble, the deluge of bad news that can lead us to despair, are small things we can be thankful for. Your generosity for instance. Since 2013, when we dedicated the BMS World Mission Christmas appeal to Syria, you have given over £150,000. Your donations have helped in a number of ways:

  • Syrian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon have faced harsh winters living in tents, exposed to the cold. Through our partners, we provided relief items to hundreds of people to keep them warm such as blankets, stoves and mattresses as well as milk and nappies for families with small children.
     
  • We have provided food relief, through our partners, to hundreds of refugees living in Lebanon and Jordan as well as for 200 families living in the Syrian city of Aleppo.
     
  • We have supported local churches in Lebanon as they have helped Syrian families. Churches like True Vine who have been helping over 700 families in the Bekaa valley with food and shelter as well as starting classes for children who would not otherwise be in school.


BMS mission workers Arthur and Louise Brown have been working with Syrian refugees through their church, setting up the Learning Support Project to help both Syrian and Lebanese children with their education. Arthur has been impressed by how churches have got involved in supporting Syrians who have escaped to Lebanon. “I’m excited that there have been so many churches willing to step up and welcome many Syrian refugees from various religious backgrounds,” he says. “There have not always been good relations between them.” 

Philip Halliday, BMS Regional Team Leader for Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, has also been impressed by the churches’ response.

“In both countries [Syria and Lebanon], the churches are not aligning themselves with one political side or the other,” he says. “Rather, they are seeking to be places of compassion and refuge. Surely this is a pivotal time in history for the Church in the Middle East. The countries of Syria and Lebanon are both being changed and the perception of the Christian Church will undoubtedly be changed too.”

This response has led to changed lives too, like Matthew and Adad.

God loves Syria and Syrians and he is there in the midst of the hatred and bloodshed, showing his love through individual acts of compassion and kindness. The importance of an active Christian presence in the Middle East is showing itself. Christians, if allowed to, can make the region a better place to live for everyone. There may be more darkness ahead for Syria and its people, but God is in control and one day there will be peace again. Until then, let us not cease to pray for our Syrian brothers and sisters, be they Muslim or Christian, and let us not give up hope for a better future for them.

 

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


 

Main photo courtesy of LSESD

 

 

BMS World Mission, 17/03/2015
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