Syria in Flames: Is This How to Defend Our Faith?
Although a flood of refugees is pouring out of war-torn Syria, thousands of Christians are choosing to stay. They are determined to fulfil their high calling as living witnesses of Christ’s love, mercy and grace. That’s no easy assignment in the middle of a multi-sided civil war between murderous extremists who hate you.
“It began as kidnapping for money, but then they started telling me I should worship Allah,” a former kidnap victim told the Telegraph’s Sherlock. “I was with five others. We were tied and blindfolded and pushed down on our knees. One of the kidnappers leant so close to my face I could feel his breath. He hissed: ‘Why don’t you become a Muslim? Then you can be free’.”
Rebel groups presume the Christians support the government – although Goriye’s Christian Syriac Union party has long been in opposition to President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. While speaking to the Telegraph, Christian leader members “were loath to criticize the opposition rebels, but many confessed that the situation had become ‘too bad’ not to talk about it,” reported Sherlock.
“Rebels said we had to pay money for the revolution,” a refugee told the Telegraph. “My cousin is a farmer, and wanted to check on his land. I warned him he should take armed security but he refused. A group kidnapped him in the barn of his farm. We had to pay $60,000 for his release. They are milking the Christians.”
“A few prayer requests from churches inside Syria – ” reported Open Doors, “include lasting peace, counselling for children who have been traumatized by violence, support for almost one-third of the Syrian population who are either refugees outside the country or homeless inside Syria, medicines, food and other relief materials get to those most in need.”
A Syrian Orthodox pastor
But included in the prayer request was that Christians around the world pray that the Syriac Christians remaining in the war zone “be a salt and light in their community even as civil war rages. “
Much of Syria’s Christian community has avoided “choosing sides” in the war, seeking self-preservation in neutrality, reported Sherlock. “But the strategy has left Christians defenseless in the face of sectarian attacks and the lawlessness that now define rebel-held areas. Last year, when government forces pulled out al-Hasakah province, leaving the terrain in the hands of Kurdish groups and Sunni opposition rebel, Christians became an easy target.