“I believe that prayer can move the hand of God,” says “Sarah”, a young woman in her 20s from Aleppo.
Living in a warzone, where being a Christian means she runs the extra risk of attack by Islamic extremists, Sarah truly understands how important prayer is. She says: “Of course prayer is important to me. I always expect the protection of the Lord and His care because of prayers… When I face a difficult or dangerous situation I text a prayer request to some of my friends to have them pray for me.”
A few years ago, Sarah felt that God was prompting her to start an interdenominational prayer meeting in Aleppo, but at first she wasn’t sure how it could be done. “I remember how I objected: ‘Lord, I am just a woman in my twenties. I know no bishops, I have no funding.’ After meeting with someone of Open Doors, the organisation turned out to be willing to fund the prayer meetings, but they wanted the meetings to have the support of a local church as well. I spoke to some priests and they agreed on the idea.
“First there were just two denominations, but the third meeting was with all denominations. It was the first time in Aleppo that a meeting was held with all denominations. We had a time of worship and of free prayer. For several participants this was something new; they were not used to praying out loud in a church. Some 500 to 600 persons came to the meetings.”
Our brothers and sisters in Syria are greatly encouraged to hear that their church family around the world is standing with them in prayer. Pastor Edward from Damascus says: “I want to express my deep appreciation for the people in the West who keep us Christians in Syria in their prayers . . . Your prayers encourage us. Through that we can encourage others.”
Brothers and sisters like Pastor Edward are in need of encouragement, as the civil war rages on with no sign of a peaceful solution. “Nowadays, it’s hard to find a safe place. Grenade shells fall every day and every other day we hear of people being injured or killed,” says Pastor Edward.
Another of our local partners, Pastor “Samuel” from Aleppo, says: “The prayer of many Christians around the world gives the people in Aleppo the feeling they are not alone. I always mention it in church when I hear of people praying for us. It is an encouragement to know that we have brothers and sisters praying for us. Sometimes these people make their support even tangible by giving support for food packages.
By the way, we also pray for you. We pray for those who pray for us and for those who support us in other ways.”
Here are three things you can do to stand with your Syrian church family in prayer and action:
- Organise a prayer vigil. This could be with your church or small group, or perhaps you could follow Sarah’s example and organise a prayer meeting in your town. We’ve created a PowerPoint presentation to help you use the Lord’s Prayer to pray for the church in the Middle East – download it here or order one as part of our church appeal pack.
- Sign our letter. Join us in asking our nation’s leaders to act on behalf of our church family in the Middle East.
- Send a gift. Why not hold a bake sale, do a sponsored run, or give up your cappuccinos for a month – every £71 can help us feed a family of five for a month. Open Doors is supporting almost 10,000 families in Syria every month with emergency food parcels and hygiene kits, alongside long-term projects such as trauma care and training.