Christians in Syria are reporting increasing attacks from opposition forces and worsening humanitarian conditions, with many displaced Syrians struggling to find food and shelter. But VOM sources also report that they are seeing God’s hand unmistakably at work in the midst of Syria’s bloody civil war.
A VOM contact reports that members of the opposition Free Syria Army (FSA) have killed a priest and two others in the northern part of the country. The FSA has warned that Christians who stay in Syria will be killed.
Another VOM contact, “Touma,” reports that rebels have attacked his Christian village and kidnapped his cousin and the cousin’s son. The family is still waiting to hear the kidnappers’ demands.
Touma says that in the past his family has hosted the rebels’ families when they needed shelter and has provided food and shared the gospel with them. Touma’s family has even supplied some of the rebels with Bibles, which they gratefully received.
However, in the last month the rebels have begun to attack the village, steal the crops and are now kidnapping the villagers for ransom. Touma says many Christian children in the village are terrified of the rebels, who have tried to break into their homes. Many families have left the village, fearing for their safety.
But, in the midst of the increased attacks, God is visibly at work in Syria. A source has told VOM that two Christian soldiers fighting on the government side found their lives spared recently.
“Boutros,” a Christian draftee, was captured by FSA troops after a shootout at a checkpoint. Most of his comrades died in the shootout, but he survived. As the FSA fighter pointed his gun at Boutros’s head and pulled the trigger, the gun jammed. So the FSA fighter pulled the trigger again, and again it jammed.
Boutros cried out, “Fire and kill me, since I’ll be with my Lord Jesus in heaven. I am not afraid.”
The FSA fighter replied, “It seems that even your Lord does not want you to be with him there in heaven. Who am I to do anything against his will? Get up and don’t show me your face. Run for your life.”
BOUTROS CRIED OUT, “FIRE AND KILL ME, SINCE I’LL BE WITH MY LORD JESUS IN HEAVEN. I AM NOT AFRAID.”
The second Christian soldier is a volunteer with a government unit based in northern Syria. During a street battle, “Yousef” was taken prisoner by a rebel brigade and brought before a local judge and the leader of the brigade.
Between them, they sentenced Yousef to hang. But as the sentence was being carried out, the rope broke. The brigade leader was very angry, but then said, “If the Share’at al Sama (the law of heaven) is not allowing you to be killed, who am I to press on with our Shariah (law) and kill you?” He ordered Yousef’s release.
Another VOM source says that during a recent three-day period, dozens of mortars fell around the building where he lives, but his building was not hit. His church is still meeting regularly three times a week, is running a medical clinic and, despite skyrocketing prices, is still providing food and hygienic items to dozens of Syrians displaced by the conflict.
“Every day more people are begging, more people are searching in rubbish, more people (are) searching for a place to stay, but they haven’t any money,” the source said. VOM supports this church’s ministry.
Continue to pray for the Christians in Syria. Pray that even Christians fighting on the front lines will continue to be witnesses for him. Pray for the families of Christians who have been killed. Pray that this church will be able to continue its ministry. Pray for those who have been kidnapped, that they will have the grace and strength to continue loving their enemies.