“A ceasefire is a lie unfortunately. Always know that, even if there is a ceasefire, the rockets and mortars are there. And when there is no ceasefire, the rockets and mortars are there. And life is going on in Aleppo.”
Those are the recent words of one of our Syrian contacts. The collapse of the week-long ceasefire in Aleppo last week, and the subsequent intensifying of the military campaign by the Syrian government, has seen hundreds die in just a few days. So where is the hope?
These are the stories of Christians who have fled from Aleppo. Some share of the challenges they face, but they also share of the hope and trust they have in God.
Displaced in Damascus – “Yet another missile fell”
“What has happened to our city?” laments an Open Doors contact from Aleppo. “This is what happened a couple of days before I left for Damascus: I was on my way to see my ailing mother and my aunt. Earlier in the afternoon a missile had hit the third floor of their building and one of their neighbors had been killed. Yes, people were already bemoaning such a loss and there was so much going on in people’s minds and hearts.
“As I approached the house, another missile fell on a person who collapsed on the ground, seemingly dead, right in front of me. I ran towards the person, but I was shocked to see that people all around didn’t seem to react at all. It looked as if not a single person reacted to the tragic loss of yet another neighbour, or at least co-citizen, who was no more with us. I just couldn’t believe that my neighbours and friends had become people with no feelings or emotions. No reaction whatsoever in a place that, some years ago, would have seen people rush down from their apartments and people from everywhere run to help.
“Just then, yet another missile fell close to us – and nobody even turned to look where it had fallen. They all went about their daily duties in a life where life and death are intertwined and they are both filled with the same emptiness… During those moments, I knew what trauma means and what war and violence bring about in people’s lives.
“I wanted to share this little story with you to pray even more for us. I don’t know what’s happening to us. I just know that God is good and He loves us!”
Pastor B – “Seven hundred Christian families came”
Pastor B is an Open Doors partner from Tartus, Syria. He and his church team now supply relief packs to 2,000 families in ten different locations. When fighting gets fierce in Syria, his city sometimes faces sudden new influxes of families.
“A lot of families fled to what are considered ‘safe areas’,” Pastor B told us. “In just fifteen days, no less than 700 Christian families and a similar number of Muslim families came from Aleppo to Tartus and Mashta al Helou. These families tried to flee to Turkey, but they were unable to do so.”
Pastor B tells the people’s reaction following another bomb attack: “After the attack I observed how people were moving. The signs of fear were obvious on their faces. I saw mothers racing to the schools to get their children. However, as they were going, the city was completely shut down by security forces. This caused even a greater fear and anger. I could not hold my tears…
“Pray for these newly arrived people, that they will get the support they need. We ask for your prayers for wisdom how to best manage this drastic increase of internally displaced people. Syria witnessed an increase in [food] prices to levels we haven’t seen before.”
Kristina – “Muslims are coming to church now”
Kristina – like many other Syrian Christians – left her home church in Aleppo to flee to a safer area. “In my church, now only ten per cent of the regular church-goers are left,” Kristina explains, talking about her church back in Aleppo. “But you know what’s surprising? The church is still filled with people: refugees take their place. Muslims are coming to the church now.”
War and Islamic extremism have caused millions to flee from Syria, while millions of others are displaced within the region, struggling to survive, often too poor or unwell to leave. Though Christians face the added threat of being targeted by Islamic extremists, many are choosing to stay and serve their communities. They believe they have a vital role to play in rebuilding their nations.
Source: Open Doors