SYRIA — With food and jobs scarce, and their savings depleted, Syrian Christians and their neighbors are struggling to provide for their families.
Despite their own trauma, many believers are choosing to stay in their beleaguered communities and reach out in love amid their neighbors’ pain.
Christians in Syria have been able to distribute food with the help of relief organizations. Families also are receiving blankets and medical care. Children who have been out of school for years once again are being educated.
A relief worker quotes 2 Corinthians 1:4 to a room full of Syrian believers: “He [God] comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”
“We must share in this comfort, not just leave it to God,” the worker says. “The body [of Christ] needs to share in the comfort of those who are hurting.”
As the war continues, more and more Syrians are affected each day by the violence and economic struggle. Fighting in their hometowns has forced many people to relocate to other cities, leaving behind their homes and their work.
Without work, many IDPs (internally displaced persons) struggle to provide for their families. With a lack of income and diminishing savings, financial issues loom, leaving many people unable to provide for their family’s basic needs — food, medicine, housing, electricity and gas for cooking and heat.
One Syrian Christian, Joy*, said God called her to help the children she saw on the street outside her window.
Many Syrian children have been without education since the beginning of the war in 2011. Traveling to school is dangerous, and many school buildings have been destroyed, turned into hospitals or taken over by a militia. After three years, some students have forgotten basic knowledge learned in their schooling, such as reading, simple math or writing skills.
Joy is working to provide hope to these children, believing that her ministry presents the love of God in practical ways. She wants every person to know “You are not alone. God has given you life.”
“We want to show them that we are always available for them,” Joy says. “We are standing with them.”
Even though more and more refugees are fleeing the country, the majority of Syrians have chosen to stay within the country and face an unknown future.
Repeated bombings, however, force many families to flee to safer areas in the country, resulting in an influx of desperate people looking for work and shelter.
Abed*, a Syrian Christian, believes God’s purpose for him is to stay in his hometown and share the love of Christ with those in need.
“As the crisis continues, the situation of the IDPs is getting worse and worse,” Abed says. In the beginning of the war, many people who needed money came with gold or items to sell. But now people who come have no belongings.
“They are … entering into a real danger zone because they are spending everything they have and they are running out of money,” Abed says. “The Lord has helped me so far to find resources … but it is going beyond what I can manage.”
With so many displaced people in town, work is hard to come by. Some are able to do small jobs, but Abed encounters many families who have problems affording rent.
Like other Christians in Syria, Abed feels called to help his neighbors survive. The burden is at times difficult to bear.
“Daily I try to steel myself and be strong as a man when I am out helping people,” Abed says. “But when I am alone, I cry like a baby. It’s difficult.
“But my heart is strong,” he adds. “The Lord is righteous, and I know He has a way that we must walk in.”
— by August Miller | BP