Courage in Syria
I wanted to share with you a true story that I read from the Voice of the Martyrs magazine update. I hope it will be encouraging, sobering and enlightening.
Here it is:
Christians in Syria today are caught in the crossfire between a ruthless authoritarian regime and jihadist warriors who have swarmed to the region to fight what they consider a holy war to reclaim land. And the jihadists believe every bit of land they control is sacred Islamic territory.
Many Christians have fled the violence, but many others have remained in Syria for a variety of reasons. Some have stayed in the country because they have nowhere else to go, while others have stayed behind to answer a higher calling – a godly calling to reach the lost in Syria, even at the risk of their lives. Just last week, our staff met with one couple who are working to answer God's call in Syria. “Samer” and “Liena” are leaders in a boldly evangelical church that has continued to meet during the civil war; the church is growing rapidly even as the violence escalates.
Staying in Syria was not an easy decision for Samer and Liena. A church offered to sponsor their relocation to Europe and to provide housing, all living essentials and even private schooling for their two children. But after much prayer and fasting, they decided to continue their ministry at home.
“It was so hard living in a place where terrorists were coming from other countries,” Liena said. “These men were saying, 'We will kill everyone who does not believe what we believe as Salafis and strict Muslims.'” The couple knows, as do all Christians in Syria, that if their country falls into the hands of the radicals, Christians will be given three choices: convert to Islam, leave the country or die.
Samer and Liena threw themselves before God. They prayed, “God, as Christians, what do you want us to do?”
“We were crying and praying, “ Liena said. “We fasted for many days. We put ourselves on the altar. “ They prayed and fasted until they had made a decision. They would stay in Syria, no matter the cost.
One night as their neighborhood was heavily shelled by mortars, the family huddled together in the front room of their home. Liena pointed to the front door and said to her children, “Look at this door. One day, God may allow someone form those terrorist people...to com in this door. They will have a big beard and very threatening faces; maybe they will have swords. They will put their swords on our necks, and you may see some blood. They will hurt us.
We will have pain, but don't worry about this pain. We will close our eyes, and we will open them again in heaven, and we will be with Jesus, singing with the angels.
Just tell these people, 'I forgive you, and Jesus loves you.'” God did not call the family home to him that night. Instead, they continue to be lights for Christ in Syria. While they still have the option of leaving the country at any time, they feel strongly that God has them there for a purpose. One of those purposes is bringing attention to how Christians are suffering because of the war.
There is a persecuted church in the historically rich nation of Syria, where brual acts of war have draw the attention of the world.
Please keep the Christians in Syria in your prayers. Pray for the souls of the radical Muslims and those who don't know Christ as Lord and Saviour. Thank you. May God have mercy.