Pastor Samuel, a church leader from Aleppo, highlights the human reality behind the current refugee crisis…
As usual my day started at five in the morning with reading the Bible, study, meditation, and prayer. This morning my phone rang during this daily routine. It was unusual to receive a phone call that early. It was a young couple asking if they could visit me. Together they have two boys, 12 and 10 years old.
I welcomed them at my place. At the beginning they thanked me for my support and for the services of the church, they also thanked the church for trying to help them in their practical needs. They were grateful for the provision of books and other materials the children needed for their school.
Then the husband said: “Pastor, we came to ask you to pray for a decision we made. We just sold our shop and I think we only got half of what the shop was worth. The money I received was what I needed to pay a smuggler to help me get out of Syria and go to Europe. Tomorrow early morning I am leaving to go to Lebanon and from Lebanon I will go to Turkey and then from Turkey to Greece on a boat. My goal is to reach Germany. We are here to ask you to pray for a safe journey.”
What about your wife and the kids?” I asked.
They will stay in Aleppo,” he replied. “I will do all the paperwork in Germany and when I get my refugee status I can ask them to join me. This will take a year. That’s fine. We have had enough suffering here.”
I was shocked. I pointed out the risks and dangers of this illegal way of traveling, especially crossing the sea. I stressed also the dangers for his wife and children to stay without him in the uncertainty of the city in war. But both of them were certain about their decision. They see no hope anymore for them in Aleppo, nor in Syria. The husband leaves to prepare the way for the family.
When they asked me to pray, I struggled with the question of what to pray for. In a way, this encourages the smugglers in their doubtful business. But I could pray for a safe trip for the man, and I could pray for the safety of the woman and her children. I prayed that both of them would trust the Lord and not put their trust in human beings, during the trip and here in Aleppo.
They left the office. They made a tough decision. So many families struggle with the question of whether they should stay or leave.
An estimated 4 million people have left Syria since the civil war began in 2011, but millions more remain within the nation, with 8 million people in Syria classed as ‘internally displaced’.
Some are trapped; they are simply too poor or infirm to make the journey elsewhere. But others, like Pastor Samuel, are choosing to stay in Syria and serve their people, despite the fact that Christians face the added threat of being attacked, kidnapped or murdered by Islamic extremists, on top of the violence of the civil war. “We are all trying to do our best to serve the people who remain and provide God’s hope in a hopeless situation,” says Pastor Samuel.
You can help now…
Use your voice: Invite your MP to the launch of our annual report on persecution…
Secret Santa: Buy a meaningful gift as a Secret Santa pressie this Christmas…
Six ways to help: Six simple ways to stand with your family in Syria…
We support people who are beaten, tortured,
imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.