‘Fatima’ was beaten by her fundamentalist Muslim husband nearly every day. As a woman living in a Muslim nation, there was little she could do about it. Her husband also abused their 5-year-old son, using the boy’s arms to extinguish his cigarettes. With nowhere to turn, the young wife and mother cried out to God. “Where are you, God?” she asked each night. “Please rescue me!” But Fatima heard no answer. Then, one night she prayed, “God, who are you?” That night Jesus appeared to her in a dream and told her to follow Him.
The vision of Jesus gave Fatima the courage she needed to flee her abusive husband with her young son. She soon met other believers, who began to teach her more about her new faith. Fatima’s friends led her to Christ in a simple prayer, and she was ready to follow Him anywhere, even if it meant her death. “I soon realised that other Muslims were having dreams about Jesus,” she said. “Some were brave enough to even ask me questions when no one was listening.”
Fatima’s witness of Christ helps others
Soon Fatima’s friends presented her with an opportunity to join evangelistic teams (VOM partners) that minister to Syrian refugees. Some Syrian families are so desperate that they’re selling their daughters for as little as $50. The evangelistic teams offer the love of Christ to the refugees in any way they can. They run medical and dental clinics, distribute food items and provide fans when it’s hot and blankets and coats when it’s cold. Fatima offers them help by sharing her story of how she came to know Jesus.
The war in Syria is one of the greatest humanitarian crises seen in the Middle East in the last 20 years. It has claimed the lives of tens of thousands of people, both Muslim and Christian. As the number of civilian deaths skyrockets, believers, including former Muslims like Fatima, are reaching out in love to their countrymen who hunger for peace and hope. According to the United Nations, more than two million Syrians have fled to neighbouring areas, including Turkey, Iraq, Kurdistan, Jordan and Lebanon. Settling in refugee camps or with friends or relatives in overcrowded apartments, many Muslims are repeating Fatima’s prayer: ‘Where are you, God? Please rescue me!’
Fatima works with a team of Christian women who minister to Syrian refugees. Upon entering refugee camps or homes, they invite the Muslim women to join them for prayer and encouragement. Each member of the outreach team shares her testimony, and they then take bowls of water and towels and wash the feet of the Muslim women. Through this act of service, the hearts of many of the refugee women are softened and they embrace Christ. After a time of prayer, the members of the evangelistic team offer to help the Muslim women in any way they can.
They are known as the Bible people
A woman from Damascus sought out the team after having her feet washed. Though her eyes were the only thing visible through her black hijab, her excitement was clear. “I’ve heard of Jesus coming to people in dreams,” she said. “I hear that His love changes the people He visits. I want to follow Jesus!” The team carefully explained the Gospel to ‘Shireen.’ They opened the Bible and read passages in John and Romans to make sure she understood what she was doing. They warned her about persecution and even possible death for committing her life to the Saviour. “Let’s pray,” Shireen said. “Let’s pray right now!”
Christians are considered infidels to most Syrian Muslims, but in the refugee camps where Christians are demonstrating the love of Christ, they are known as the Bible people. VOM workers began establishing the foundation of this work years ago by developing contacts with local Christians.
Today, the opportunities for ministry are far greater than we thought possible. Supporting evangelistic teams is a key component of VOM’s work in the region. Other ministry opportunities include distributing Bibles, encouraging Syrian pastors, providing humanitarian aid and showing the video Jesus: He Lived Among Us in Arabic at refugee camps. The teams VOM is partnering with focus on providing hope amid war and showing Christ’s love to the refugees. We thank God for all those who have stood with VOM through prayer and financial support. Your contributions have made these partnerships possible, and your continued support will help us increase our efforts in and around Syria.
Today, VOM is prayerfully determining how we can serve Syrian Christians and reach out with God’s love in the future. Together we will bring a message of life and hope to the spiritually dead and to our suffering brothers and sisters.