Displaced Christians in Syria
Fear for Their Lives
The rebel fight for Afrin in northern Syria has driven thousands of civilians out of the city, including Christians who fear for their lives as they find themselves displaced alongside radical Muslims.
A native missionary team bringing aid to people trapped in Afrin and to others displaced in outlying villages has stood alongside Christians facing hostility from Muslim radicals.
“Anywhere we go, they say, ‘You are infidels,’ and they are not accepted by people, and if they are, they are treated very poorly and badly,” she said. “And in the villages where many are now located, because they cannot return, they are very scared that they will be slaughtered and killed because of their faith.”
Tens of thousands of residents were displaced amid a two-month battle by a Turkish-backed rebel force that took control of Afrin, in northern Syria, on March 18. An estimated 300 civilians were killed in the fighting, which came with widespread looting of homes and shops.
“In the villages where many are now located, because they cannot return, they are very scared that they will be slaughtered and killed because of their faith,” the native missionary said.
The indigenous missionary whose team is providing food, water and clothing, among other items, has relatives in the city and stood with victims of the fighting in Afrin; she was trapped in the city with them during shelling last week when she spoke to Christian Aid Mission representatives.
“There are a lot of families that are in need, and it is a humanitarian disaster,” she said. “Some people, like my aunt and my uncle, were able to return, but they came back to their homes and there was nothing in it.”
Standing in solidarity with civilians struggling to survive in Afrin and with those who are displaced puts her and her team in prime position to share the gospel.
“People are coming to the Lord like no other time even in these hard times,” she said. “Even though there is shelling, we are coming together, and the Lord is blessing us. But the humanitarian part is just…”
She broke down in tears.
Though the city is in rebel hands, sporadic fighting has continued. The director of the native ministry said the worker in Afrin was huddled and praying with frightened residents in their home last week when shelling drove Muslim neighbors running to them.
“They said that somebody got killed,” the director said, “They came in shouting and said, ‘We were so scared, and we know that God listens to you, so we’re here with you because God is going to protect you.'”
The native missionary and other Christians prayed with them, letting them know that they pray to Jesus and in His name. The neighbors gave their assent and bowed silently with them, perhaps the first step in a journey toward faith.
Native missionaries in and around Afrin, along with those elsewhere in Syria, risk their lives to bring aid and the message of eternal life in Christ, as do their colleagues throughout the Middle East. Please consider a gift today to enable them to support themselves and their families as they strive to meet daunting needs in their respective countries.