Mike Bailey – Locked out – Syrian refugees in Jordan

“There was terrible screaming in the middle of the night,” remembers Ishmail, a husband and a father of five. “I feared snipers so I didn’t go out.” The threat of snipers may have saved Ishmail’s life.

When dawn broke, he went to investigate the commotion that had woken him. Inside his neighbour’s house, he found the bodies of his neighbour’s six children still lying in a pool of their own blood. They had been killed in front of their parents.

That nightmare convinced Ishmail to leave his villa with its garden and roses, fountain and ducks. His wife didn’t want to go but that night changed everything. Now, two months later, she is glad they left. She has heard from friends who stayed how bad it is to be living under siege in their home village, just outside Deraa. Continue reading “Mike Bailey – Locked out – Syrian refugees in Jordan”

Spotlight on Syria


Please stand with us in prayerful support of the people of Syria.  We want to see God end the conflict and bring peace to the millions of innocent people caught up in the violence.  We want to see ordinary Syrians returning to their homes and rebuilding their lives.  The numbers of those effected by the violence make grim reading:

  • 4 million are in need of humanitarian assistance in Syria;
  • 2.5 million have been internally displaced;
  • 1 million have been displaced to neighbouring countries

..and the numbers are rising daily. Continue reading “Spotlight on Syria”

Open Doors: Strengthen What Remains – Pray for Christians in Syria – Part 1

NOTE: Tomorrow, 11 May, is a special day of prayer for Syria.

* * *

As the civil war intensifies in Syria, Christians are increasingly more vulnerable to the violence. While all Syrians are suffering, Christians in particular are targeted. In the fight for Islam, Jihadi’s from abroad have come to Syria to ‘fight for Islam.’ In some areas of Homs and Aleppo, neighborhoods have been taken over by extremists and are now ruled by Islamic Sharia law.

Contacts in Syria have seen people walking around without hands, presumably punished for stealing. Christians are considered infidels in the eyes of these extremists. Christian refugees told us that they often hear statements that they are not welcome in Syria any longer. A pastor from Tartus shares, “We are second class citizens or we have to convert to Islam.” Continue reading “Open Doors: Strengthen What Remains – Pray for Christians in Syria – Part 1”

World Watch Monitor: A Refugees Camp Just for Syrian Christians in Turkey? – 4

Two other Syrian refugees have heard that we are interested in their stories and have come to find us.

“It’s important that you tell the truth, that you get the whole picture,” the first one says. “If you’re interested in covering the camp, we want you to know that none of us will be staying in the camp. They didn’t even ask us before they started building. Personally, I think that women and children should be brought out from Syria, to the camp, and that the men should be given heavier weapons so that they can defend their areas from al-Qaeda and Salafists.”

The other one follows up: “We don’t want food; we don’t want to hide in refugee camps in Turkey! We want shelter for our families and weapons for ourselves. Syria must not be purged of non-Muslims. We want to fight for the future of the Christians in Syria.”

The refugees and their stories have made us forget the time. We have to hurry to get to a meeting with Metropolitan Samuel Aktas at the monastery in Mor Gabriel, about 10 minutes away. Continue reading “World Watch Monitor: A Refugees Camp Just for Syrian Christians in Turkey? – 4”

World Watch Monitor: A Refugees Camp Just for Syrian Christians in Turkey? – 3

A little later that evening we meet a Turkish journalist, who asks to be anonymous. She and her husband are well-known human-rights activists. They have just returned from Syria where they have investigated the situation for Christians. She isn’t as pleased as the church leaders about the camp.

“They are going to build not one but two camps, one for 6,000 Muslims and one for 4,000 Christians,” she says. “What will happen if Christians can’t flee from Syria, if they don’t need to flee from Syria? Then both camps will be used for Muslims. Then 10,000 Syrian Muslims will be located in close vicinity to one of the world’s oldest monasteries.”

She lights a cigarette. “I mean, I am a Muslim myself, this is not what I’m talking about. This is a gorgeous part of Turkey, a tourist attraction, a culturally and historically important site without counterpart. Assyrians/Syriacs have lived here for thousands of years. It’s inconceivable that they want to ruin Tur Abdin (a historically important part of Turkey’s southeast region) with these two enormous camps. There are many other locations for refugee camps that are not a few hundred metres from the centre of Midyat. Nothing good will come of this. Should there be problems or crimes, the Christians will point out the Muslims and vice versa. The citizens of Midyat should have had their say. Instead, everything happened practically overnight. The Foreign Minister and a few Bishops was all it took, as I see it, to ruin Midyat. Just look at the media reports in the past few days about fighting between locals and Syrian refugees in Jordan. And yet both groups belong to the same religion!” Continue reading “World Watch Monitor: A Refugees Camp Just for Syrian Christians in Turkey? – 3”

World Watch Monitor: A Refugees Camp Just for Syrian Christians in Turkey? – 2

Later that afternoon, I am summoned to Metropolitan Saliba Özmen’s monastery office. Representatives of three Christian religious denominations have gathered to discuss what kind of help Christian refugees from Syria would need. A Jesuit priest says it upsets him that the small number of refugees in Turkey should be banished to a camp. Christian organizations should be able to provide food and shelter for them. Özmen defends the idea: “We have been taking care of them for a year and a half. They have lived and eaten for free in the monastery. We fear that they will arrive in large numbers; we can’t possibly help them here in Mardin. That is why we turned to the Turkish government and asked for help. Moreover, it’s the tourist season; besides being a historical holy site and a convent school, it is also a tourist attraction.”

The Jesuit rolls his eyes. “It’s a good thing if the tourists can see that the monastery is helping refugees, isn’t it?” No one speaks for a while; the only thing you can hear is the rattle of the rain against the window pane. The Jesuit and the representatives of the various churches get up and take their leave.

When they are gone, Özmen asks for more tea for us. He confesses that things have not gone as planned. “We asked the government for barracks, not tents,” he tells me. “The whole thing has turned out so wrong. Anyway, the refugees that are here, and are coming to Mardin, will live in apartments. A Syriac Orthodox organization from Sweden, Youth Initiative, is helping with rents for four apartments. So the people living in the monastery can be moved.” Continue reading “World Watch Monitor: A Refugees Camp Just for Syrian Christians in Turkey? – 2”

World Watch Monitor: A Refugees Camp Just for Syrian Christians in Turkey? – 1

Earthwork on the site at Midyat, Turkey

Turkey is building a tent ciEarthwork on the site at Midyat, Turkey,
where thousands of Syrian Christians may live. The Mor Gabriel
monastery is in the background, at right.

Photo: Saima Altunkaya for World Watch Monitor

Turkey is building a tent city for thousands of Syrian Christians. Why?

Hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing the violence in Syria live in camps just inside Turkey. So the April 10 news item from Reuters, announcing the creation of two more camps in Turkish town of Midyat, just beyond Syria’s northeastern border, didn’t seem like much.

But something caught my eye: A camp specifically for Syrian Christians? This was new. Of all the Syrian refugees in Turkey, only a few hundred are Christian. Now they need a camp?

I’m calling clergy and others in Midyat. They can’t agree about the number of refugees it is supposed to shelter. One is saying 10,000 Christians, another 1,000. Reuters says 2,500.

Nowhere in the Islamic world has a refugee camp for the Christians of one country been built across the border in a neighbouring country. Now Turkey is building a camp that will hold between 3 and 30 times the number of Syrian Christians currently taking refuge in the country. Why? Why is Turkey creating a small city to handle a flood of Syrian Christians?

The news reports – what few there were – didn’t say. The only way to get answers is to go to Midyat. Continue reading “World Watch Monitor: A Refugees Camp Just for Syrian Christians in Turkey? – 1”

Lisa Pearce – Zahle dispatch: Life among Syria’s Christian refugees

Christian Syrian refugees
(Source of picture, HERE)

No jobs, no school, and everything is expensive

Lisa Pearce is deputy CEO of Open Doors UK and Ireland, which works with partners worldwide to support Christians who are under pressure for their faith. She traveled to Lebanon in April to meet with Syrian Christians who have fled the violence in their homeland. Here are some of her observations:

* * *

About 30 kilometres outside Syria’s western border, the Lebanon town of Zahle is full of refugees: Many make it across the Syria-Lebanon border and not much farther. With new refugees arriving every day, it seems that every spare building, shed and patch of ground is being rented by families or groups of families, at crippling prices. Even those leaving Syria with money can afford almost nothing in Lebanon. Before the uprising, Lebanese prices were several times higher than those in Syria. A colleague in Beirut, 90 minutes from the border, used to travel to Syria to shop for clothes because it was so much cheaper. Now, with more people competing for the same land, rooms or bunch of bananas, prices in the border town have rocketed, putting many essentials out of reach of desperate refugees.

On arriving at a church to meet our host for the few days, I was struck by how tiny it was: All we saw was a network of small rooms. And with only 50 members, it was greatly outnumbered by the refugees flooding into the town. Even so, they started going out to sit with a few families and understand their needs. They gathered what food, blankets and mattresses they could, and gave them to the families. They arranged for a doctor to come and visit the sick; They prayed with those who wanted prayer. And they visited more families, found more clothes, more mattresses. Two weeks before our visit, a large crowd of desperate, newly arrived refugees gathered outside the church and demanded food, mattresses and cooking materials. The church team were ‘five minutes from calling the police’. It is not easy. That little congregation now has been given funds from a partner organisation (which my organisation is working with inside Syria), and are helping many hundreds of families.  Continue reading “Lisa Pearce – Zahle dispatch: Life among Syria’s Christian refugees”

Pew Research – Widespread Middle East Fears that Syrian Violence Will Spread

Syria map

Survey Report

As concern mounts about the Syrian government’s possible use of chemical weapons against its own people, publics in the Middle East – especially the Lebanese – are extremely worried about violence spreading to neighboring countries. Nonetheless, a new survey by the Pew Research Center, conducted before news emerged of alleged use of chemical agents by the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, found little regional support for Western or Arab countries sending arms and military supplies to anti-government groups in Syria. And there is even greater opposition among American and European publics to such indirect Syrian involvement by their governments. A more recent Pew Research nationwide U.S. poll finds that hard evidence that Damascus has engaged in chemical warfare would only lead to a modest increase in American public support for an allied military effort in Syria.

Meanwhile, Assad is very unpopular throughout the region, except among Shia Muslims in Lebanon. In turn, Lebanese Muslims are divided over aid to the rebels. Most Sunnis back such assistance, while Shia overwhelmingly oppose it.

These are the key findings from a new survey by the Pew Research Center of 11,771 people in 12 countries from March 3 to April 7, 2013. Surveyed countries include Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Egypt, Israel, the Palestinian territories and Tunisia in the Middle East; Germany, France and Britain in Europe; and the United States and Russia. Continue reading “Pew Research – Widespread Middle East Fears that Syrian Violence Will Spread”

Alex Awad – Standing with Syrian Refugees

Alex Awad
Rev. Alex Awad, Bethlehem Bible College

The moment we arrived in Mafraq, a city in north Jordan, we began to understand the magnitude of the Syrian tragedy. Pastor Nour Sahawneh came out to meet us and instantly he was surrounded by Syrian refugee women who had recently crossed the border to Jordan and began presenting to him their urgent needs. As we were introducing ourselves to Pastor Sahawneh, other refugees turned to us and they began to share their desperate conditions. The nine of us, staff and students from Bethlehem Bible College, realized that we were at the right place in the right time.

We served among both Muslim and Christian Syrian refugees in Amman and in Mafraq. Although the church in Mafraq is a small congregation, its pastor and leaders are doing a tremendous job in welcoming and caring for fleeing refugees regardless of their religious or political affiliations. The church’s ministry to the refugees is so transparent and honest that in addition to Christian humanitarian NGOs, several secular agencies are also supplying the church with emergency items to distribute. Continue reading “Alex Awad – Standing with Syrian Refugees”

Syria’s uneasy Christians feel both sides closing in | World news | guardian.co.uk

Syria’s uneasy Christians feel both sides closing in | World news | guardian.co.uk.

This is a must read article for all those interested in the fate of Syria. Here is the beginning of the article:

Syrian Christians like to say that they belong to an ancient community that long pre-dates the arrival of Islam – and that whatever the outcome of the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, they will still be there when it is over. But these are deeply unsettling times – highlighted by the case of the two bishops kidnapped on Monday in another alarming example of the human toll of a war without end.

Bishop Yuhanna Ibrahim, head of the Syriac Orthodox church in Aleppo, and Bishop Boulos Yaziji, of the Greek Orthodox church in the city, were abducted by gunmen Syrian state media called “terrorists”. Later the kidnappers were described as “Chechen mercenaries” fighting with Jabhat al-Nusra, an extreme Islamist group that has links with al-Qaida. The anti-Assad opposition countered at once that it believed the regime was implicated.

Christians make up about 10% of Syria‘s 23 million population and have traditionally been regarded as loyal to a regime that strictly limited political freedoms for all citizens but guarantees their religious worship. Like other minorities, they have been mainly neutral or loyal to Assad since the uprising began two years ago. Still, an estimated 300,000 have already fled abroad.


Sat-7 Press Release – Kidnapped Syrian Bishops Released – Unconfirmed

UPDATE – Unfortunately, the release of the two Syrian church leaders has not been confirmed and nobody knows where they are. Please continue to pray for their release!

* * *

Nicosia, Cyprus – Tuesday 23rd April 2013

On the evening of Monday, 22nd April, Mar Gregorios Ibrahim, The Syrian Orthodox Archbishop of Aleppo (Syria) was traveling with Metropolitan Paul Yazigi, the Greek Orthodox Archbishop in the same city. They were returning to Aleppo from a village near to the Turkish border when armed gunmen stopped the car in the village of Kfar Dael, killed the driver and kidnapped the two bishops.  Reportedly, they had been attempting to negotiate the release of others who had recently been kidnapped by Syrian rebels, when they fell prey themselves. After a day of intense political efforts and the prayers of many, they were thankfully both released unharmed this afternoon.

At the beginning of April, Mar Gregorios had given an interview with the BBC’s Arabic Service and called for the Syrian government to allow free access to the media.  He said that by allowing journalists to move about freely, it would show the “true picture of the tragedy suffered by Syrians”. Continue reading “Sat-7 Press Release – Kidnapped Syrian Bishops Released – Unconfirmed”

11 May – Special Day of Prayer for Syria – UPDATE

pray for Syria

All churches in Syria will unite in prayer on Saturday 11 May in many places all around the war-torn nation. This is a unique moment of unity of Christians in that country. The Syrian Christians ask their brothers and sisters all around the world to pray with them on that day.

We as MEE field office want to invite all Development bases to contact your contacts to get as much as possible Churches and individual Christians to join in. This is a real request from the persecuted church to join with them in prayer. During the events there will be video recording and pictures will be taken. They will be made available afterwards. (Open Doors) Continue reading “11 May – Special Day of Prayer for Syria – UPDATE”

Global Christian Forum Media Release on the Kidnapping of Syrian Bishops

Two Archbishops kidnapped on day of church Appeal for Middle East peace
On the day the Global Christian Forum released an Appeal by Middle East church leaders calling on their co-citizens “to reject all forms of extremism and enmity” and for the world community to “to support a Christian presence in the Middle East in partnership with other religions” it was reported that two Orthodox bishops had been kidnapped in Syria.
Global Christian Forum leaders are concerned for the safety of Archbishop Mar Gregorius Yohanna Ibrahim of the Syrian Orthodox Archdiocese of Aleppo and Archbishop Boulos Yazaji of the Greek Orthodox of Aleppo, who were intercepted by armed men as they travelled from Turkish border areas where they were undertaking humanitarian work. It is understood that the bishop’s driver was shot and killed.

Archbishop Mar Gregorius Yohanna Ibrahim is a member of the international Committee of the Global Christian Forum. Continue reading “Global Christian Forum Media Release on the Kidnapping of Syrian Bishops”

Press release: Deploring the Kidnapping of the Archbishops in Syria

The “Arab Group for Muslim – Christian Dialogue” and the “Forum for Development, Culture and Dialogue” deplore the kidnapping of the distinguished Archbishops John Ibrahim Metropolitan of Aleppo for the Syrian Orthodox Church and Paul Yazigi Metropolitan of Aleppo for the Greek Orthodox Church. The AGMCD and FDCD strongly condemn this heinous act that has become a precedent in the Syrian crisis.

Adding to the risk of this most recent act, the distinguished Archbishops are two of the pillars of Muslin – Christian dialogue in our region and are main figures of co-existence, mutual respect, mutual understanding, and solidarity. Continue reading “Press release: Deploring the Kidnapping of the Archbishops in Syria”

Remaining Syrian Christians Fear Chaos

More than a million people have left Syria to escape what is now more than two years of fighting.
In the Christian village of Yacoubiyah, many say their families have fled to safer places, both inside and outside the country.
Those who have chosen to stay are confronting new fears close to home, with some abandoned villas now used as bases for opposition brigades.
Villagers told Al Jazeera their worse fear today is the fact that there is no authority on the ground.
Al Jazeera’s Zeina Khodr reports from Yacoubiyah, in Idlib province.

Syria: Silent Exodus of Assyrian Christians

Syria map

In the midst of terrible war and chaos, Syria’s Christian minority is facing insurmountable challenges due to distinct persecution. Vicious attacks have been made by militant Islamists and criminals, resulting in a massive exodus of believers who are being forced to flee the country. According to Archdeacon Emanuel Youkhana of the Assyrian Church of the East, who is trying to cope with the overwhelming refugee crisis, Christians in Syria are fleeing en masse from threats, kidnappings, rapes and murders. “Behind the daily reporting about bombs,” he says, “there is an ethno-religious cleansing taking place, and soon Syria (will) be emptied of its Christians.”

Although the official number of Assyrian Christians who have already fled is not known, hundreds are crossing the border into Turkey and Lebanon daily. Sadly, these panic-stricken refugees have faced horrific circumstances and ongoing threats. Some point to a government that failed to protect them; others to the Islamist rebels who drove them out. One woman explained that her husband and son were shot in the head for no reason. “Our only crime is being Christians,” she responded. Continue reading “Syria: Silent Exodus of Assyrian Christians”

Repentance and Reconciliation – A Response to Rupen Das, on Betrayal and Redemption

reconciliation in Syria

Thanks a lot, Rupen, for your very hearty presentation of the grim situation of Christians in Syria.

You are contrasting in your text two views on what is tragically happening in that country. The view of the West – favouring the rebellion, and the view of Syrian Christians – who seem to prefer the past status quo, of which they were beneficiaries, along with a few others. With a price though.

It is mostly about this price, and its implications, that I want to talk to you and our readers here, by presenting, if I am allowed, a third possible view on this, as painful as it may be for Syrian Christians to hear this. And if somebody is tempted to ask what qualifies me to say what I am going to share with you, I can show you my ‘scars’.

Let me begin with a story. A number of years ago I was in Beirut, Lebanon, at Notre Dame du Mont Monastery, for a conference of Evangelicals for Middle East Understanding. Among other invitees, there were four Christian leaders from Iraq, one of them being a general in the Syrian army, and head of the Protestant community there. In their speeches, these four men could not praise more the supposedly deep wisdom and good will towards Christians of their ‘great leader’, the late Saddam Hussein. Allow me not to repeat here their pathetic stories. Continue reading “Repentance and Reconciliation – A Response to Rupen Das, on Betrayal and Redemption”

John Eibner – Religious ‘Cleansing’ in the Middle East a Growing Threat


(Morning Star News) When Iran’s holocaust-denying President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad proclaims, “Israel must be wiped off the map,” the United States rightly takes the threat of genocide seriously. President Obama, like his predecessor, is committed to preventing the eradication of the people of Israel. Conservative U.S. Christian leadership, as reflected by Christians United for Israel, has strongly backed this commitment.

There is, however, another threat of genocide in the Middle East. It is the religious cleansing of Christians and other religious minorities from the Sunni-dominated Middle East. This danger remains unacknowledged by President Obama and has received little attention, with few exceptions, from U.S. Christian leadership on both the right the left.

Not so abroad. Already, last year, former Lebanese President Amine Gemayel and French President Nicholas Sarkozy drew the attention of the international community respectively to acts of “genocide” and “a perverse program of religious cleansing” directed at the Middle East’s 10-12 million Christians. Pope Benedict XVI repeatedly appeals for prayer and action on behalf of the region’s endangered Christian communities.

Today, the crisis of religious cleansing is particularly acute in Syria. The general chaos and confusion of civil war harms all Syrians irrespective of religion. But members of religious minorities – roughly 25 percent of the population – are targeted for murder, abduction, displacement and humiliation with increasing frequency and ferocity. Religious cleansing proceeds under the publicly proclaimed slogan, “Alawites [a branch of Shia Islam] to the grave, and Christians to Beirut!” – a proclamation, like President Ahmadinejad’s, of genocidal intent.

Evidence of the ascendancy of Muslim supremacy and jihadist ideology within Syria’s armed opposition grows more visible. The Islamist-dominated militias, with the lethal support of the United States’ closest regional Sunni allies – in particular Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey – strive to overthrow the secular dictatorship of Bashar al Assad and replace it with a Sunni Islamic state to serve as a barrier to Shiite Iran.

Read HERE the entire article.

Malkhaz Songulashvili – The last two days of the year 2012 -1

Dr Taj Hargey & Archbishop Malkhaz Songulashvili

Archbishop of the Evangelical Baptist Church of Georgia Malkhaz Songulashvili (right), and Dr Taj Hargey, Imam of the Oxford Islamic Congregation, (left) pictured at the Bodleian Library in Oxford, Oxfordshire, December 20th 2012. Tomorrow Archbishop Songulashvili will give a Friday prayer sermon at Imam Hargey’s mosque, the first time that a non-Muslim has delivered the Friday sermon in a mosque. (Credit: Susannah Ireland / The Independent)

* * *

Day One: it is raining cats and dogs.  Ala and I have a houseguest, Kyrion, a fellow Georgian from Tbilisi, where he served Patriarch Ilia II as a hypo-deacon for more than 20 years. Now he is an Archimandrite of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kiev Patriarchate.  He is in his early forties. He is a very  amusing and kind character. He is a monk, which means being totally withdrawn from worldly pleasures. Yet his main hobby is shopping…. he dines on coffee, cigarettes and Black Label whisky. He has become part of our family. With him, and a Saudi friend of ours, we attended the other day a Christmas carol service at Christ Church Cathedral. We arrived late. Even though we had tickets, all the places were already taken. I looked around to find places for Ala, Kyrion and our Saudi friend. It was not easy. The service was about to start. With the help of sidesmen I managed to find three places but I could not find a place for myself. There were no more seats available.  I was about to give up when the chief verger appeared in front of me and whispered in my ear:

“The Dean wants you to process with the bishop and clergy, if you do not mind.”

Of course I did not. Now I could have a seat with the clergy! The service of Nine Lessons and Carols was absolutely beautiful. This year the choir sang rather unusual modern carols which added a touch of post-modernity to the service. After the service all four of us were invited to a reception by the Dean and his wife, who have recently visited Georgia and enjoyed the hospitality of a small Baptist Church in the city of Gori. Continue reading “Malkhaz Songulashvili – The last two days of the year 2012 -1”

Fadi Hallisso – The Humanitarian Crisis in Syria. Everyone Is Responsible

Lack of cooperation on all sides has left the doors open to the most extremist financiers from the Arab Gulf countries to force their own agendas on the brigades they are financing, agendas that have nothing to do with Syria’s cause of freedom and dignity.

Since last June, I’ve been trying, along with other committed friends, to concentrate on the relief work. For this purpose, we have met countless numbers of foreign correspondents and humanitarian-aid workers from various international organizations and NGOs, with the single aim of raising awareness about the severity of the current humanitarian crisis in Syria on one hand, and in the surrounding countries that host our refugees on the other. We’ve had one preoccupation: “How could we better mobilize people in this field to act fast so we would have a proper response vis-à-vis the escalating crisis before winter arrives?”

What have been the results so far? To be frank, I have to confess that the result was, and still is, a total failure and a deep disappointment. Either no one is willing to take the crisis we are facing seriously, or they don’t dare to do what it really takes to help a people struggling for his survival on a daily basis. Increasingly, Syrians have the impression that they are left alone to face their fate.  Continue reading “Fadi Hallisso – The Humanitarian Crisis in Syria. Everyone Is Responsible”

A New Letter from Syria

Saturday November 24 2012

Dear Brothers and Sisters
During the last two weeks, Aleppo city was a little bit better than before, except for the following 4 difficulties:
– Mortars: which are falling every day on buildings in the city, destroying and killing, last week five of them fell on two buildings close to the Armenian Orthodox church and the Alliance Church, in fact two of them fell on the building where the Alliance church are using on the first floor. Continue reading “A New Letter from Syria”

What shall I render to the Lord – A Testimony from Syria

“What shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits to me?”

(Psalm 116:12)

A while ago, a wise Jesuit priest advised me to write down everything I wanted to share with small groups so that my thoughts would be organised and coherent. Then, as I came to write this testimony, I instinctively chose the following verse as the title to my story: What shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits to me?

So why did I choose this title? When asked about the role that my faith plays in my social and relief work with Syrian refugees, I was a little unsure as to what I should say. I am not used to giving talks or speaking in public. On the other hand, what I’m currently doing and the place where I am are two things so natural that they do not need philosophical explanations. That being said, this uncertainty was useful in that it helped me review the recent years in my life with a new perspective. Although carrying out a life evaluation is a deep-rooted spiritual tradition for a Jesuit, by means of daily review and annual retreats, it gave me a rare opportunity to review my life by retracing the path that led me to where I am now from a humanitarian, spiritual and even political point of view.

When I do this review, I can’t help but utter this verse in the book of Psalms. Indeed I feel so small before God who has been dealing with me with such generosity and patience, which reminds of Saint Augustine. In his personal accounts, he compares God’s relationship with him to that of a master and his lad. In reality, for a long time I didn’t think at all about a monastic life; on the contrary, I was completely immersed in the material world. I also had a negative attitude towards the institution of the church and religious people in general as well as those who were part of this monastic Order (which I later joined) to the extent that I refused to take part in mass. Continue reading “What shall I render to the Lord – A Testimony from Syria”

Leaders of the Syrian Bible Society Are Free – Thanks be to God!

Date: Fri, 16 Nov 2012

Dear friends,

Today I received a message from the Syrian Bible Society that both of our brothers are free. Your prayers are always very much have an effect on God’s work in our area.
The last several updates I sent were having difficulties and challenges.
My next update will have good news!
Blessings to all of you

Message from a pastor in Aleppo, Syria

Saturday November 10 2012
Dear praying partners
This week, mortars were the most famous event, especially when 4 mortars fell on a very close area to ours, and two of them on a building close to a church. Nearly every day of the week, during day and night from hour to hour, as well as this moment of writing this, the sound of mortar or rockets passing over our area or explodes somewhere close to us or in the city.
The Jasmine is called that because usually they call Damascus as city of Jasmine, so when the opposition started they called it Jasmine revolution.
I have here three pieces of sad news:
· The two kidnapped Bible House workers are still kidnapped. Last Thursday they let Mano go to bring the ransom, and the negotiation is still on. Continue reading “Message from a pastor in Aleppo, Syria”

Director of Syrian Bible Society Kidnapped

Please join us as we pray for Rev. George Andrea and Manu Pedrosian who were kidnapped on Saturday in Aleppo. Pastor Andrea is the director of the Bible Society in Syria. The kidnappers are asking for a ransom of $140,000.

· Please pray for God’s divine will in this situation.

· We do not pray against persecution, but we do pray for God’s glory to be revealed through it.

· Pray that the Sovereign God will be glorified through Pastor Andrea and Mr. Pedrosian’s imprisonment.

· Please pray for strength and peace for their families as well as for these two men and for their kidnappers to see the love of Jesus through them.

A New Message from A Pastor in Aleppo, Syria

Dear friends

Today, Tuesday, started as a terrifying day.

After a difficult Sunday morning, the rest of the day was good, and we gathered in the church at 6p.m for our Sunday worship. As well Monday was quiet day in general.

We woke up at 5.45 A.m. because of shooting very close to where we live, then it turned into a real battle, with heavy guns and explosions, and a very loud shouting of Allah wa Akbar – God is great! Continue reading “A New Message from A Pastor in Aleppo, Syria”

Message of A Pastor in Aleppo, Syria

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Hope my email finds you well. Your emails and phone calls were real encouraging for both me and the church. I wrote this mail Wednesday night, but since that time till now, Friday noon, we hadn’t any Internet access or cell phone coverage!

This night (Friday night – Saturday morning) was the worse since 10 days! Very heavy explosions and sound of fighting not far from our home, by strong machine guns. The situation is still the same as for the center of fights and also the same in the other safe areas.

What is very new is that one of the main tribes or maybe more than one tribe (Muslim – Arab, and originally from Aleppo) decided to fight with the army of the government against the oppositions who are nearly from the same background. Continue reading “Message of A Pastor in Aleppo, Syria”

Syria: Christians affected by continuing violence

Posted on 25th July 2012

Greetings in the name of Jesus, Prince of Peace

Syrian Christians have requested our prayers concerning the continuing violence in their country.

Thousands of Syrians, including large numbers of Christians, have fled from their homes, especially in the Homs and Hama governorates and more recently Damascus and Aleppo. There have been reports of the targeting of Christians by both government and opposition sides. Continue reading “Syria: Christians affected by continuing violence”

Christians Flee from Radical Rebels in Syria – SPIEGEL ONLINE

Christians Flee from Radical Rebels in Syria – SPIEGEL ONLINE.

Thousands of Syrians are fleeing into neighboring Lebanon — not entirely due to fear of the Assad regime. The country’s minority Christian population is suffering under attacks waged by rebel troops. In the Beqaa Valley in eastern Lebanon, Christian families are finding temporary refuge, but they are still terrified.

Syria repeats the scenario in Iraq. Christian communities are the great losers in this conflict. And the Christians in the world are doing almost nothing to help.