More and more Christians in Syria are having to flee their country due to Islamic State activities. Many are heading to Turkey for safety. Around 220 Christians from a cluster of villages in northeast Syria were taken hostage by IS on 23 February.
At least 23 hostages were subsequently released and reached safety in Hassaka city by 3 March, but there has been no further news of the remaining hostages. “We did not believe that we would come out alive,” one of the released Christians later said. “We were in constant fear.”
These Assyrian Christians who are trying to flee the violence have been hampered by the closure of two border crossings between Turkey and Syria. Most cannot escape by conventional means as only commercial trucks and emergency medical vehicles can pass through Turkish borders.
Those who have succeeded have made their way to Mardin and Midyat, two ancient cities that have been the homeland of Syriac Christianity in Turkey where the church is distributing funds and food to refugees.
Most Christians do not want to stay in the refugee camps built by the Turkish government, which means they do not receive living assistance.
A small Turkish church with 65 members has been asked to take over food distribution at a nearby refugee camp for Iraqi Yezidi refugees. This has given the Christians the chance to serve the 30,000 Yezidis who have settled in the region and has proved an opportunity for reconciliation between the Protestant Church and local authorities. Formerly they were viewed negatively, now they are even being allowed to share their faith, an act rarely tolerated in Turkey.
“God never causes evil to happen, but He can do wonderful things by using the church in difficult situations,” said the church’s pastor. “In the last eight months, the attitudes that people have about Christians have changed completely.”
We support people who are beaten, tortured,
imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.