In the parts of Syria that are stable, Open Doors has been able to help some families to rebuild their homes through local partners. Elderly couple Antoom and Basima were able to return to their house in Homs after six years of displacement. Antoom said, “I didn’t expect that we would be able to come back, but we did! I am so happy, this house has belonged to our family for more than 100 years. I thank God for the people who supported us.”
Open Doors is also continuing to provide vital aid for thousands of families in Syria through local partners, including providing food and medicines.
An Open Doors partner who coordinates food distribution to families in Aleppo said, “The people are very tired and some are even in despair. Our support gives them the strength to continue. We see that this support is really important for them.”
One of the families who are receiving help in Aleppo is a family with one son and three daughters. The man, in his fifties, suffers from diabetes and recently had a toe amputated. His son lost his job because of the war, and after being unemployed for some time, he finally left Syria to find work abroad. The three daughters stayed with their parents; two are still at university, while the other has graduated. She is the only one working in the family, and she tries to support them all with her small income, but’s not enough.
A church member who frequently visits the family said, “In spite of all the difficulties, we can say they are still strong. They look up to heaven and raise their hands to pray to God, and they face all the problems with their strong faith. Thanks to your support, we were able to provide the medical support that they need frequently, in addition to the food support.”
‘Thank you for helping us’
Syria’s civil war has forced about half of the Syrian population to leave their homes and move to other parts of the country that are more secure, or to leave the country completely. Those who have been displaced within Syria have often fled their homes with nothing, including their businesses and sources of income. Prices have gone up in Syria, making the situation for those people even harder.
A church leader who helps hundreds of families, with support from Open Doors, said, “People have to pay a lot extra to have electricity and water. Our city suffers under the big economic crisis. All basic needs are becoming more and more difficult to purchase. This is forcing people to leave.”
One of those displaced families is Micheline’s family. She is a 37-year-old mother, now living in Aleppo. She rents a room with her husband on the rooftop of an apartment building, and her children are living with her mother temporarily. Micheline said, “Our children are struggling without us. They are worried about us. My mother shares with our children what she can, and when there is enough they bring the rest to us. So we thank you for helping us with paying the rent of our room and with food portions.”
Beginning new projects
There are even new ministries beginning in some parts of Syria. For example, in the church of our partner Pastor Edward in Damascus, they have a special ministry reaching out to deaf people, called ‘Speaking Hands’. Recently, they were able to open a centre for this ministry in the city. The centre is separate from the church, which makes it more easily accessible for deaf people of all backgrounds, and is playing an important role in helping to integrate deaf people with the rest of the community.
Hope for the Middle East
Open Doors has launched the Hope for the Middle East campaign, a global, seven-year campaign mobilising people around the world to stand with Christians and other minorities in Syria and Iraq. As part of this, Open Doors is asking people to sign the Hope for the Middle East petition, which will be presented to the United Nations on 11 December 2017 and to the UK Government on 13 December 2017.
Syria is number 6 on the 2017 Open Doors World Watch List, a ranking of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.
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Open Doors UK & Ireland is part of Open Doors International, a global NGO network which has supported and strengthened persecuted Christians in over 60 countries for over 60 years. Last year it raised approximately $70 million to provide practical support to persecuted Christians such as food, medicines, trauma care, legal assistance, safe houses and schools, as well as spiritual support through Christian literature, training and resources. Open Doors UK & Ireland raised over £11 million.
Every year Open Doors publishes the World Watch List - a ranking of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian. This is produced using detailed information provided by Open Doors co-workers in more than 60 countries, as well as independent experts. Data is gathered on five spheres of life - private, family, community, national and church life - plus a sixth sphere measuring the degree of violence impacting Christians. Persecution in each country is recorded by Open Doors using a point system. Open Doors' research methods and results have been independently audited by the International Institute for Religious Freedom. The 2017 World Watch List accounts for the 12 months ending 31 October 2016.