On 7-8 September, several missiles were reportedly fired by al-Qaeda-linked rebels toward the predominately Christian town of Mhardeh, Syria. Reports indicate that the missiles carried cluster bombs, killing at least 10 civilians and seriously wounding at least 20 others. Two more died later in hospital.
Five of the dead were children under 15, three from the same family, whose mother and grandmother were also killed. The children’s father is in hospital.
“Do you feel that you are safe now?” asked a reporter for Norwegian newspaper Dagen, which has links to Mhardeh. “All we can do now is to pray,” a local source told its reporter. “The only thing we feel is grief. Please pray for us.”
Mhardeh, reported to be one of the most densely populated Christian villages in Syria, has received thousands of internally displaced people from other parts of the country.
Mhardeh is controlled by the Syrian government, which has retaliated by attacking nearby towns as part of the build-up to the offensive against Idlib Province. The province is the last remaining stronghold controlled by the opposition.
Sources: International Christian Concern, World Watch Monitor
- Ask the Lord to comfort these families in their time of shock and grief. Pray they will rest in the knowledge that the good shepherd walks with them (Psalm 23).
- Ask the Lord to bring healing to those who are injured; pray for the medical staff who are treating them.
- Ask the Lord to intervene and bring an end to the bloodshed in Syria.
The country of Jordan has taken in nearly 1.5 million refugees as a result of the civil war in Syria. Rent and food prices have doubled or trebled, and there aren’t enough jobs for those who need them. Families survive on handouts and live crammed together in apartment buildings. But these desperate people fleeing militant Islam are often open to the message of the Gospel, and VOM partners in the region are sharing the love of Jesus with them. For one family, it made all the difference.
I left Syria two years ago,” said Um Hana, “when the Syrian army entered our house, took my husband and tried to rape me. I ran away, but they took my husband and burned down our house in front of us. I came alone to Jordan, travelling with my children. It is very dangerous for a woman to travel alone. When my husband came out of prison three months later, he joined us. He still has scars on his back from where the police hit him.”
Finding nothing else, the family moved into a one-bedroom apartment with some other family members. Five adults and 15 children share the space.
“In Syria, I was a good Muslim,” Um Hana said. “I prayed from time to time, but not five times a day. After we had been in Jordan eight months, a sheik from Saudi Arabia came to our house. He offered us some dates to eat. But when he saw our 8-year-old daughter, his eyes lit up. He offered to buy her.”
Um Hana’s husband began to weep as his wife told the story to a VOM partner. The VOM partner told them this sort of thing happens often in the area. Girls are used and then left to fend for themselves. It is extremely shameful and traumatic for them and their families.
“After this, we started thinking about Islam and asking ourselves about it,” Um Hana said. One week later, the VOM partner met them and began to visit them regularly, speaking about Jesus. After about a year of visits, Um Hana and her husband decided to accept Christ.
Jesus can do everything
“I found the way,” she said. “I had a big burden on me, but now I am free. Directly, I started to love the people around me more. When I first arrived in Jordan, I hated almost everyone, but now I am starting to love the people around me. Now I can forgive people, and I feel that my sins are forgiven.”
“When I look at others, I see they do not know what to do,” she said. “My sister, who also accepted Jesus, and I talk about how we can share Jesus with our relatives. Even my mother, who lives with me, almost every day I tell her a story from the Bible.
“Recently, I read the story where Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. When I look at my old life, I was like that man, but now Lazarus is alive again. Jesus can do everything.”
A new al-Qaeda-led jihadist coalition, Hay’at Tahrir al Sham (HTS), recently perpetrated several devastating attacks deep inside Damascus.
On 19 March HTS launched a massive military assault just 2km from the walls of the Old City, having entered the area through tunnels. Whilst they were eventually driven back, it is the closest the jihadists have come to the city centre.
In recent years, the population of Damascus has swelled from less than 2 million to well over 4 million as Syrians, including hundreds of thousands of Christians, have sought sanctuary inside the city’s security cordon.
The Maronite Archbishop of Damascus, Samir Nassar, writes of “a very bitter Lent”, while proclaiming Christ Resurrected and encouraging the faithful not to give up.
Source: Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin
- Ask the Lord to intervene in the Middle East to bring protection and provision to those who have left homes to flee danger only to find themselves at risk again.
- Pray the church in Syria may be strengthened by the Lord, to not give up. Grant wisdom to the church leaders who constantly need to encourage their parishioners.
- Pray the witness of the church in Syria may be so strong, that many will seek and find the one true God in the midst of suffering and uncertainly. Pray too for those who currently oppose the Lord and His children.
An Assyrian family was forced to leave their home, business and community in northern Syria because of the war. As refugees, they began attending prayer meetings, a Bible study, and the whole family soon put their faith in Jesus.
‘Saif’ invited twenty more Assyrian families to join the meetings and many of these families also became new converts.
In one meeting, one family asked, “Why would God allow for misery, persecution, and destruction to take over the Assyrian, the people who have first accepted Jesus thousands of years ago and speak His language to date?” ‘Naama’ responded, “We, as Assyrian, have known the truth thousands of years ago, yet we have never glorified God or walked on His steps! Today we need to repent and ask for God’s forgiveness!”
Saif and Naama recently moved to another country and hope to plant a church to serve the Assyrians there.
Source: The Voice of the Martyrs USA
- Thank the Lord for the way He is working in this community to bring hope during this time of unrest.
- Pray the Gospel will continue to spread to further extend His kingdom in the Middle East.
- Thank the Lord for the faithfulness of Saif and Naama, pray the Lord will go before them and also protect them as they live and work as His disciples.
Christians in Aleppo are asking for prayers for their city, which has been destroyed by the civil war.
A VOM contact reports, “Currently, it is a ghost city, no life and complete destruction. Pray this city will have life again and the church will play a part in bringing Christ into the oppressed homes.” Pray that the young men who have been taken to fight in the war can return home to rebuild their families. Pray also for children in Syria who have not been able to go to school and who have suffered numerous losses, and that the church will be equipped to help these children recover. Christians have also asked for prayer that believers who once lived in Aleppo will begin to return.
Source: The Voice of the Martyrs USA