Published: 00:01 GMT Daylight Time - Friday 30 March 2012
Lent Prayer - Syria
Project(s): 20-383, 49-1022
Country/Region: Middle East and North Africa, Syria
In September 2011 a Syrian sheikh issued a chilling threat that all those who are opposing the current uprising in the country will be “torn apart, chopped up and fed to the dogs”. His words may well have been aimed partly at Syrian Christians, who have been well treated and enjoyed a good measure of religious freedom under President Bashar Assad, who is a follower of the minority Alawi sect of Islam.
In recent years it has perhaps been easier to be a Christian in Syria than anywhere else in the Arab world, and the country has also thrown open its borders to hundreds of thousands of Christian refugees fleeing the anti- Christian violence in neighbouring Iraq. The churches have been able to worship and practise their faith largely without interference, and they have received various benefits from the government.
Syrian Christians have not been immune from restrictions under the current regime. Churches have to register with the government, which subjects them to close surveillance. Evangelism among Muslims is strongly discouraged and conversion from Islam forbidden. Although sharia is not generally in force, the laws of inheritance and personal status are mainly based upon it.
But Christians are concerned that a post-Assad Syria could be a much more menacing place. Rule by the Sunni Muslim majority could lead to suppression of the country’s minorities, including Christians, and the growing influence of militant Islamists could generate hostility and violence against the churches.
The worst-case scenario is that the country goes the way of Iraq, where militant Islamists were left free to launch a vicious campaign of attacks against the country’s Christians. Iraqi Christians who fled to Syria are once again facing an uncertain future. A Syrian church leader said, “[The Iraqis] are lifting their prayers for a safe and secure Syria and for it to continue to be a safe haven.”
Pray for Syria’s Christians as they seek the Lord’s wisdom in these challenging and difficult days, that they may know how best to respond to the developing crisis in their country. Pray that He will protect them from harm during the present unrest, and also the Iraqi Christians who have found refuge in the country. Pray too that any political change will be for the better, leading to a relaxing of restrictions on Christian activities. Pray that the benefits that the churches enjoy will not be withdrawn and that Islamists will not wreak havoc on the Christian community.
Barnabas Fund projects include:
- Emergency aid for Christians in Syria affected by 2011 crisis (Ref. 49-1022)
- Iraqi Christian refugees in Syria, Jordan and Lebanon (Ref. 20-383)
This article is taken from
“Praying for the Persecuted Church in Lent 2012” -.