Prayers for the Middle East: the Syria crisis continues

Prayers for the Middle East: the Syria crisis continues

Philip Halliday, BMS World Mission - December 17, 2013

“Everyone I speak to says that this is a very, very ugly war, where torture is being used as a weapon, where they are trying to generate fear and where children are not being spared,” says Philip Halliday, BMS Regional Team Leader for Europe, the Middle East and North Africa.

“Children are being hurt in order that their parents will lose hope and energy, with a horrible effectiveness I think. Who would have the strength to carry on fighting if they thought that their children were being tortured or hurt or killed? I think the idea is to break the adults by breaking the children.

“We need to pray against that. We need to pray that this war will come to an end.”

There are now over 750,000 registered Syrian refugees in Lebanon according to the UNHCR, with many more afraid to even register. The majority of these refugees are living in appalling circumstances, in skeletons of buildings with no protection from the elements, or in tents. Thousands are entirely reliant on aid from local churches.

On his recent trip to Lebanon, Philip visited Pastor Jihad Haddad at True Vine Baptist Church in the Bekaa Valley, who has been distributing food packages to Syrian refugees with BMS support. He was inspired by the actions of the Church in Lebanon, which is responding to the devastating crisis with sacrificial love despite the longstanding animosity between Syrians and Lebanese.

“You look on in admiration at the Christian people in Lebanon,” says Philip. “You think, what if this was happening in my church in France, or in my sending church in England? What would it be like if there were suddenly 6,000 refugees arriving every day in Hertfordshire? And I guess it is one of those situations where you don’t really know.

“But the Scriptures tell us that the Lord will give grace according to need – and certainly he has given grace for the Lebanese people. They’re just trying to respond to what life has thrown at them; trusting that God’s hand is in this and making themselves available to be used by the Lord in an unforeseen but powerful way.

“The Church is right now, in Lebanon and Syria, a place of compassion, a place of refuge and a place of indiscriminate generosity where people are not taking sides.”

Lebanon and Syria are being scarred by this very sad war. But the perception of the Christian Church in these countries is also changing, as it responds without discrimination or agenda to the Syrian war and the humanitarian crisis.

“Please pray that, in the heat of this action, God would continue to give wisdom, stamina and strength to the churches,” says Philip, “and that, in God’s grace, the perception of the Christian Church in the Middle East will be altered because of what the Church has done in this conflict.”

This article first appeared on the website of BMS World Mission and is used with permission.

Photo. Heba Aly/IRIN: children wait in the cold as their parents register as Syrian refugees