Date: October 25, 2016
Syria (MNN) — At the end of last week, Russian and Syrian forces let up on airstrikes in Aleppo for a few days for humanitarian purposes. There were evacuation corridors opened in eastern Aleppo to allow citizens to leave the city. However, very few took the opportunity to flee, and the UN said it was still too dangerous to carry out medical evacuations.
The Aleppo citadel before Syria’s civil war. (Photo courtesy of Varun Shiv Kapur via Flickr under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License: https://goo.gl/QXlFrO)
Greg Kelley with World Mission says for those staying in dangerous situations in Syria, there could be several motivating factors. “For different reasons, they’re not leaving. It might be because they might have physical ailment. They might just refuse, it’s been their home for generations, and they just simply refuse to leave. Whatever the circumstances, they’re not coming out. So the Body of Christ needs to go in.”
World Mission has ministry in Lebanon where they give humanitarian aid along with an encouraging message of Christ’s hope to refugees who made it that far.
“Lebanon is uniquely positioned because it’s the only country in the Middle East where it’s not illegal to convert from Islam to Christianity. So that positions [Christian workers] uniquely in the sense that when they’re doing aid and when they’re loving them and when they’re being the hands and feet [of Christ], they can also share the motivation behind it, which is that the Gospel compels them, it’s the love of Jesus.”
Kelley says, “All of our strategy is to work through the Body of Christ, because we believe that, especially with the refugee crises around the world, it’s a unique opportunity for the Body of Christ to shine and rise up and be the hands and feet of Jesus.”
(Photo courtesy of World Mission)
However, amazingly enough, believers aren’t just reaching out to refugees in the safer border-countries of Syria. There are Christians actually bringing much-needed aid across the Syrian border.
The Syrian cities these Christian humanitarians are traveling to include Aleppo. They have been passing out food, clothing, and World Mission’s solar-powered audio Bibles called Treasures. It’s that last piece that is offering the deepest healing for hurting families.
“NGOs are trying and they are getting aid into a lot of places, but it ends at that, it ends at aid. The people who are distributing Treasures, not only are they going into the places that NGOs have successfully been into, but they’re really looking for opportunities and places that there hasn’t been any service or any assistance of any kind. Those are the most traumatized people.
“These people have endured unimaginable conflict. It’s things that the majority of listeners and myself, we just don’t have any context for it. So really, outside the hope of the Gospel, there’s no hope they see with their eyes at all.”
Kelley shares one story they heard from ministry partners distributing Treasures in Aleppo:
“We just received word even today that a young girl, through listening to the Word of God in Arabic, she became a follower of Jesus and she’s already now beginning to encourage her family with the hope of glory that’s now within her. So we’re seeing fruit from the Treasure, which is our solar-powered audio Bible, which is being distributed right now into Aleppo. Because we believe if there’s one thing we could provide somebody, it’s the Word of God, because that is the eternal hope that all of us have in Jesus.”
The testimonial of this young girl in Aleppo is part of the greater affect World Mission is witnessing among Syrian refugees and their need for faith in a Heavenly Father.
(Photo courtesy of World Mission via Facebook)
“What we’re seeing is these Syrian refugees are responding to the Gospel, they’re coming to know the Lord, and ultimately the goal is to raise them up in the local church and help them so they grow in their discipleship journey with Jesus.”
As you go on in your week, Kelley offers these two prayers requests for the Church in Syria and Lebanon.
“Our prayers need to be centered in two places. We need to just be praying for those who are among the hundreds of thousands of refugees that are leaving Syria, that are going into the neighboring countries of Lebanon…. We also need to pray for the Church, the Body of Christ that’s in Lebanon and Syria, that they would be strong, that they would stand up in the midst of adversity, and that they would show the love of Jesus and not flee themselves, because as the Church leaves…it doesn’t leave anyone behind who can do the discipleship-making.”