05 July 2013
Open Doors calls on UK Christians to save Syria
Photo: Tearfund. Syria
International Christian charity Open Doors is calling on Christians and churches in the UK to urgently pray for the Church in Syria. Their new report 'Syria: Church on its knees' highlights the threat posed to Christians in Syria amid increasing evidence that they are being deliberately targeted.
With 1.7 million in the country, Syria was the second biggest Christian minority in the Middle East, and its Church is rooted in the origins of Christianity. For a hundred years the country has been a reliable refuge for Christians within the region.
Open Doors reveal a complex and very different reality in Syria today. As the conflict and immense human suffering involving the entire population worsens, thousands of Christian refugees are pouring out of Syria with nowhere else to go. Thousands have been driven out of their homes, unable to go back.
A Christian in Damascus said: "The situation in Syria is really desperate. We will all pray together in Syria but we need every Christian in the world to pray. Please pray that the problems will come to an end. Pray that Syria will find Jesus."
The attempt for Christians to remain outside the conflict, or take a non violent stand as a matter of principle, is challenged by the increasing pressure if not to join either side in attacking the other, to at least defend one's own community.
"There are areas where Christians have been intentionally displaced" commented a Syrian Church leader, who has to remain anonymous for security reasons. "Once the Christians have left they have destroyed their homes, their churches and everything; this is a clear message that you are not welcome to come back again."
Amid the crisis however, Syrian Christians have been helping thousands of internally displaced people - housing them in monasteries, church buildings, and in their own homes. Many church leaders, and their churches, have discovered the opportunity to respond positively to the needs of others, and not just within their own community. They even long for more space to be able to do this more effectively.
Chief executive officer of Open Doors UK & Ireland, Eddie Lyle said: "Indifference is less than human; inaction is indefensible. Now is the time to speak out. Thoughtfully, passionately and above all Open Doors believes, prayerfully. We can't simply look on while our Church family is being persecuted; this campaign is about Christians in the UK & Ireland showing their commitment by speaking up, giving money and praying for our brothers and sisters in Syria."
Open Doors have built a big network of contacts in Syria which work with several denominations, and are now working with Syrian churches to deliver food supplies, medical help, blankets and bedding, and supporting over 3,000 families on a monthly basis.
A Syrian Christian said: "We cannot think of the future now, all that we can think of is that it is time for us to leave the country."
The Save Syria campaign is urging anyone with influence and power to do everything possible to protect lives, safeguard the Syrian Christian communities, and to make it possible for them to remain there.
By Eleanor Ward