Syria update – Sept 2015
The situation is very sad. The serious influx of refugees is only part of the story. Even that is quite complex. Not only Syrian refugees who have lost everything in war are running to Europe. Some come from safe areas of Syria. Others are not Syrian, but carry forged documents. Some are Islamists entering Europe to serve the Islamic cause — the Lord knows.
Sadly, Syria continues to be wrecked by violence as zealous Islamists strive to remove the secular government there. These are the majority and most effective fighters. Much suffering in Syria and Iraq has come at the hands of these Islamic militants from all over the world—most came through Turkey. They are well armed and supported by fanatical oil-rich Sunni Muslim rulers, sheikhs of Qatar, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, in coordination with Turkey’s Islamic government. All these Sunni Muslim states are long time allies of the West. The West has also, more selectively, continued to directly support rebellion in Syria.
Not only does it seem that the Islamic government of Turkey coordinated the entry of fighters, but it also seems to be helping thousands cross over every day to Europe via Greece. Others do so from the chaotic country of Libya in North Africa. In Turkey the UN and aid organizations from around the world help refugees. MERF is only involved with the needs of Syrian and Iraqi refugees inside Syria and in neighbouring Lebanon, Jordan and a few in Cyprus.
Working through the Lebanon Reformed Fellowship in Lebanon and with two committees inside Syria (one in Damascus and another in Aleppo), MERF diaconal aid to the needy who have lost homes and/or jobs is always combined with the ministry of the Word by local Lebanese and Syrian Christian volunteers and churches including:
1- Food parcels (milk, powdered milk, canned meats and/or fish products, rice, cooking oil)
2- Basic first aid and other medical supplies (Thankfully, in areas of Syria still under government control, public clinical and hospital services are available for those able to reach the facilities. However, Lebanon has no public medical care.)
3- Transport costs for families seeking safer villages/towns inside Syria.
4- Housing costs (rent) — especially in southern Syria and in Lebanon.
5- Schooling books and fees.
Fresh Updates from inside Syria:
– Much prayer is needed for families who have recently lost loved ones or seen them maimed by indiscriminate shelling and snipeing. In the capital, Damascus, families have lost their only children in this way. The northwestern city of Aleppo continues to see much fighting, so water and electricity are very irregular and unreliable. Two evangelical church buildings have been specifically targeted by bombing. The damages have only been material, most remaining believers stay in bomb shelters.
– The school year has started. Thus, the possibility of random bombing, booby-trapped cars and etc. make going to and from schools risky.
– A number of new believers need constant Bible instruction and pastoral care.
– Few committed spiritual leaders remain; a steady stream are departing.
Fresh Update from Lebanon:
– Lebanese authorities, fearing the infiltration of jihadists among Syrian refugees, introduced harsh measurements affecting several converted families. Pastors and others are working hard with political leaders to provide guarantees to secure exemptions for about 22 families.
– Most Syrian refugees cared for by LRF and partner churches are of Christian background. Their numbers are growing. The main financial burden currently is housing costs. These range from US$250 to $450 per month per household.
– The lack of public health care services in Lebanon brings serious need.
– Several small church groups involved in ministry to refugees in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan have suffered leadership disagreements and division regarding the use of material resources. The committees especially ask prayer that the Lord would provide a spirit of self-giving humble service.
“Declaring the Whole Counsel of God”
Middle East Reformed Fellowship
Headquarters: P. O. Box 40052, Larnaca 6300 Cyprus