Please pray for Syria. Syria’s 8-year-old civil war keeps flaring up in different regions. The latest is Eastern Ghouta, just 10 km from Damascus, the nation’s capital, trapping nearly 400,000 civilians between government forces and its allies on one side and dug-in rebel fighters on the other. The area is of strategic importance to both sides because of its proximity to the capital.
Six days of airstrikes have killed more than 450 people, 99 of them children. The area is being held by rebels, and there is no access in or out for medical evacuations, aid, or food deliveries. Open Doors USA calls the conditions for those trapped as “hell on earth.”
Russian warplanes are carrying out the airstrikes in support of the Syrian government. Last Saturday, the UN Security Council, including Russia, voted in favor of a resolution calling for a 30-day ceasefire “without delay.”
Those in the region are in desperate need of help and prayers. Open Doors is in contact with local partners in Syria and has developed 14 ways you can pray with believers in Syria. We’ve summarized their prayer points below. Please visit their site to read the more detailed version.
- Pray for the many women in Syria who are now on their own, especially for the elderly and the ones with children at home. Many men in the army died in the war or left the country.
- Fighting continues. Although Syria might not be in the headlines anymore every day, the war is not over. Fighting continues in various places in the country, even very close to the capital city of Damascus and the city of Aleppo. Pray that those involved in the conflict will stop the bloodshed and will work together towards peace.
- Elderly people in Syria are an extremely vulnerable group. Many have weak health because of their age. Their children have relocated outside the country, leaving behind their aged parents with almost no support. Thank God for the churches and local organizations who continue to help those people.
- Pray for those who have lost everything. –“I lost everything in the war,” Father Ghassan Ward of the Greek Orthodox Church in Aleppo says.. “My bishop was kidnapped, my church and my house were ruined by rockets, and I lost my wife two years ago to cancer. I lost my two sons who had to leave the country to stay out of the army. I lost two close family members to a bomb. So you can say I am like many Syrians who also lost everything.”
- Pray for the future livelihood of Syrian Christians. Father Sami, a Jesuit priest in Syria says: “We need to prepare the people for the future.” Pray for the efforts of Open Doors and others who are creating new opportunities for Syrians to provide for themselves.
- Thank God for over 21,000 Syrians that were able to participate in various trainings in 2017. Most of the trainings were offered through indigenous churches Open Doors partners with. Many focus on discipleship; additionally, Syrian Christians were trained in leadership, trauma awareness and trauma care. Specific discipleship training also was offered, focusing on believers coming from a Muslim background.
- Pray for the plans of several churches in Syria to open Centers of Hope supported by Open Doors. These centers will equip local partner churches to care for their people and serve the wider community through gospel ministry, servant leadership, biblical discipleship, job creation and trauma counseling. In 2018, we hope to have 20 of those centers (each center serving 500 to 1,000 families) spread across Syria. Pray that these places and the teaching and activities they provide will indeed bring hope to the Syrians
- Pray with Father Sami, a church leader in Aleppo, who believes the church has an important task. “We want to create understanding between the different religious groups in the country,” he explains, adding that the church has started a clinic, distribution and educational center in Eastern Aleppo. “It is the first time the church has a presence in this Muslim environment,” he says.
- Pray with churches in Aleppo for the return of two Christian bishops, Yohanna Ibrahim and Boulos Yazigi. April 22 will mark five years since they were kidnapped; to date, there has been no sign of their whereabouts. Join their churches who continue to pray in hope that their church leaders will return.
- Thank God for the Christians who stayed in their country–for the priests and pastors, for the church members who made the choice to remain in Syria and to serve God in their native land. Pray that God will give them the strength to stay and that He will impart wisdom to all involved in helping the people and Church of Syria.
More than 465,000 Syrians have been killed in the fighting, over a million injured, and over 12 million, half the country’s pre-war population, have been displaced from their homes since the civil war began 8 years ago.