Just a few years ago, the church in Syria was facing not just war and terror, but a fight for its very existence. The vicious civil war and invasion by ISIS militants threatened the very existence of Christianity. But our partners on the ground say the story is beginning to change. God is resurrecting the church in Syria, responding to the prayers and cries of His people around the world, demonstrating His compassion and the power to revive and restore.
Amazingly, during the war, churches have grown, and many Muslims have met Christ – a situation that is all the more amazing as just a few years ago parts of the country were a major stronghold for the so-called Islamic State. To help Christians, especially new believers, deepen their faith, Open Doors regularly organizes retreats for Syrian churches. A recent retreat in the Lebanese mountains included the baptism of 16 people – a powerful picture of the transformation taking place.
Syrian Pastor David* is seeing the start of a revival among tribal groups in Syria. Sixteen baptisms in one morning in is a very special moment for this young Syrian church. Many of its members come from the Druze religion (a religious minority in the Middle East combining beliefs from Judaism, Christianity and Islam).
“Of course, God works everywhere and among all people, but I see the start of a revival amongst the Druze and the Kurds in Syria,” says David*, pastor of the church.
“In my city, we now have four churches of mainly new believers,” Pastor David says. His congregation of 60 is the smallest church of the four. Elsewhere in Syria, former Druze and former Muslims are turning to Christ in significant numbers.
One after another, the men and women walk down the pool stairs to be baptized. The pastor shortly prays and then baptizes them, gently pushing them backward under the water. Each believer emerges to the sound of loud applause and a warm embrace as they step out of the pool.
With all 16 baptisms finished, the group erupts in worship:
“I have decided to follow Jesus/I have decided to follow Jesus/ I have decided to follow Jesus/ No turning back, no turning back.”
The song is familiar to Christians around the world. But in Syria, the words take on new meaning. In this Middle Eastern country, their decision to follow Jesus comes at a great cost. If or when their conversion is discovered, these new believers could lose their family, friends, their job, even their life.
Believers in Syria know that becoming a Christian means leaving their old life, their old world, and their old religion behind them. And before them is a cross – a symbol of persecution.
Not unlike any newly baptized believer, baptism for these converts in Syria is just the start. They will need the support of the Body of Christ, both local and global. Pastor David believes the war has been a catalyst for transformation.
“Hundreds have been saved during the war; before, there were only some hidden and secret believers. God worked in His special way during this war.”
Through your prayers and support, Open Doors offers new believers like these discipleship and leadership training. We are also working with local churches in Syria to establish Centers of Hope, equipping and empowering local churches to offer aid and services like trauma counseling to their communities.
Recently, Pastor David’s church opened a Center of Hope in their community.
*Representative name used for security reasons
Choosing to follow Jesus takes courage in Syria. Get your free copy of our new Guts and Courage resource to learn more about the places in the world where Christians face pressure, violence and intimidation for their faith and get inspired to live out your walk with God with more boldness…
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