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Still shining: Syria update

“This March we will start the fifth year of this war,” says Pastor Boutros*. He leads one of the churches we partner with in the coastal city of Tartus in Syria. “There are long cuts in electricity supply. Also, there’s no fuel; that means no heating. The price of fuel is twice as much as it was before. And we’re not seeing that there is a political solution to the crisis. Every day people are dying, and there are cities that are completely deserted.”

But thanks to your support, Pastor Boutros’ church is supporting thousands of families. “We have complete faith that God who has helped us in Syria for the past four years will help us in 2015. In the beginning we were helping 16 families; now we are supporting 2,180 families with your support, and 1,000 families through another organisation, since the beginning of 2015. We support families in ten cities.

“The people face real poverty because they lost their homes, jobs, some of them lost their parents or children and whatever savings they had. They depend on the support they get. The church today is like a tent that cares for those beneath her… And the most important thing is that the church is like a family for those who feel strange in their own country.”

 “We have complete faith that God who has helped us in Syria for the past four years will help us in 2015.

The work Pastor Boutros is doing…

We spoke to Pastor Boutros about the work he and his church are doing:

“We do monthly food distributions. We visit [the families] in the places they stay and see what they have and we see what they need. We have a relationship with the people; there is real communication between us. We are not just giving food or cash. During the visits the people hear the Gospel, hear the Word of God. We also visit the sick, we pray for them and try to help with their medical needs.

“Having this relationship with the people is the solution to the problems in Syria. Peace comes only through Jesus. When people hear about the problems, they want revenge, but the church is doing the work of reconciliation.

“The church is offering something entirely different: joy and hope. People are praying, going out in the streets. I pray with [them] to commit their lives to Christ. I see people who were in despair and have hope again. We are seeing how happy and joyful people are because someone came and visited them and asked about them… The people appreciate that we are knocking on the doors asking what they need.

Work with children

“We did a children’s program in Safita; there were children whose parents had died. We gathered children from seven villages in Safita and did a two-hour activity. There were 300 children and we gave them each an umbrella and winter clothes (a sweater, scarf, ear muffs and cap) and some sweets. We prepared the clothes according to their age and sex. Because we know the families and we have a file of their ages and genders we could prepare it especially for them.

“We went through the streets of Homs knocking on doors and gathering the children from their homes. Together with the children we walked through the streets, the children were singing on the way. Many of the Christian children remembered the old worship songs they were used to sing. These children were singing praises to God in the streets of Homs.

“One of the homes we [visited] was the home of a family with a paralysed child. They had no heating in their house and the cold caused pain to this child. We brought them a wood burning stove. The family was very impacted by this. I was very much affected when I saw this child crying from the cold. But we were able to help.

“It made me think of the words of Jesus in Matthew 25: ‘For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink…I was sick and you looked after me.’ This is how we work: we always try to know what the needs of the families are and to provide for them according to their needs.”

Thank you

“I give huge thanks to you on behalf of these families for not forgetting us, and standing with us in the long term. Even though the situation is difficult and prolonged, I thank you that you have continued with us. Through your partnership we are seeing beautiful results.”

Thanks to your support, Open Doors has been working through local churches to support 9,000 families each month with food and hygiene kits. We have also provided believers with thousands of Bibles, as well as training for youth leaders and trauma counselling amongst other projects.

*Name changed for security reasons

Please pray…

  • For continued provision and comfort for the people of Syria
  • For strength and energy for Pastor Boutros and others like him who are working to care for the people of Syria – this work is often exhausting and traumatising
  • For God to continue to draw many to himself through His church
  • For peace in Syria.

We support people who are beaten, tortured,
imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.