The five year anniversary of the civil war in Syria past last week and despite the conflict, sorrow and pain, there are surprising signs of hope! Some small businesses are opening, a new church has been planted, and more people are coming to know Jesus than ever before.
In February this year a new furniture factory was opened in Homs with support from Open Doors. The business is providing work for 30 people, and already has international orders. “Thank you that there are still people thinking about our city and willing to help us,” said Gabriel*, one of the church leaders involved in starting the project.
In another city, Open Doors was able to provide the finances to open a new pharmacy. It employs fewer people than the furniture factory, but enables people to buy medicines at reasonable prices, and provides discounts for those in need.
“I can’t express the happiness of the elderly men and women who can buy their medicine from the pharmacy with a discount of 50 per cent or more,” the church leader who monitors the project says. “One of the needy women who received medicine for free burst into tears. In the name of the Christians in our city, I thank you for your love and your support.”
Alongside long-term projects such as these, Open Doors is also supporting the church in Syria as they meet people’s immediate needs, providing for 10,000 families – approximately 50,000 people – every month with aid including food, medicines, rent subsidies, and medical help.
It is the love of Christ shown through the church that is drawing many to faith in Jesus. One Syrian believer from a Muslim background from Aleppo has shared: “What attracted me is the loving environment of the church.”
However, these new believers can face serious consequences for choosing to leave Islam. In a Lebanese refugee camp one Syrian originally from a village close to Damascus said: “We [my wife and I] both became Christians. My wife took her veil off, but people started to threaten us.”
One pastor has told Open Doors: “The Muslims coming to faith are ready to die for their new beliefs; that is a different kind of Christianity. We’re in a big harvest. God is waking up a sleeping church.”
In 2015 Open Doors distributed 29,000 Bibles and 34,500 Children’s Bibles in Syria, many of which went to new believers to help them grow in their new faith. One church that Open Doors partners with, the Alliance Church in Damascus, even planted a new church close to Homs in February.
One church leader in Syria told Open Doors: “We continue to live in Syria with hope that our country will heal from its painful outcomes. It will heal from its wounds and will regain peace soon. We, under the Lord’s grace and through his strength, have decided to stay and carry on.”
*name changed for security reasons
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