Meet Pastor Abdalla - a local church partner of Open Doors in Aleppo, Syria. He has courageously stayed in his city throughout the war to lead his church and serve his community. “We are beginning to rebuild everything,” he says. “Even though the damage is big and huge, it is obvious to everyone there that life and reconciliation is coming back to Aleppo.”
At times it must have seemed impossible to imagine life coming back to Aleppo. He remembers, “Once a car exploded near me. Also my daughter had four bombs go off in her school and four children died.”
But his courage in the face of great danger is incredible. “Even though the bombs were falling around the building every day, we didn’t stop.” When the war began the church was helping a few families, but this work grew, and thanks to the support and prayers of people like you they are now reaching thousands of families with practical support.
Every £26 can provide a family in Syria with a winter relief pack for a month.
Pastor Abdalla is playing a key role in bringing reconciliation to his community, and heads up a reconciliation committee in Aleppo.
He says, “Real reconciliation is in the relationship. There are different parts of society and they all have unstable relationships with each other. So the church has the role to make these relationships stable. To bring all parties together. The church’s role is to make the conversation between them and make them have a good relationship. When you solve the relationship you have a stable society and that’s what we are doing.”
He says the church was able to build good relationships with different groups in society through the help they offered to everyone throughout the crisis – Christians and non-Christians alike. “Before the crisis the community was split into Christian parts and non-Christian parts. During the crisis the non-Christians left their houses and came to the Christians and developed a close relationship with them.
“We decided we needed to help them as Jesus would have done. So we showed love to them and received them into our centre. If you enter our centre now you will see that the majority of the people there are not Christians. They came to receive support, food, medication – they had to rent new houses because their houses were destroyed.”
YOU ARE HELPING 12,000 FAMILIES IN SYRIA TO SURVIVE
Your support and prayers are providing vital aid such as food and medicines for 12,000 of the most vulnerable families in Syria every month – thank you!
This support is still desperately needed. Many of those who remain in Syria are the elderly, those with chronic illnesses, families who have lost their breadwinners, and those who are simply too poor to afford to leave. Even those with an income are struggling to earn enough to cover their basic necessities, as the cost of living has gone up ten-fold since the start of the war.
Pastor Abdalla says, “The need still exists. Some organisations have reduced the amount that they give. But the need is still there and we don’t know how we can meet the need in the days to come.
“The number of families we help as a church is so big and the need is so big. A lady came to me and said that other organisations had stopped helping her. She begged me, ‘Please don’t stop helping us.’ We need to help these people.”
Pastor Abdalla also sees the importance of helping people to find jobs, to give them the dignity of supporting their own families, at least partially. He hopes that eventually families with an income will be able to support themselves fully.
“We need to find people a job. Some people think that relief should be taken away and people should be helped to find jobs instead. But I think that both aims should go together for at least one year.”
Shiveen is an example of the problem Pastor Abdalla describes. Before the war, she ran a computer outlet. But she was forced to flee to escape the violence, and left behind everything she had worked so hard to build. She says, “After we fled to Homs I found some temporary work in a grocery shop. That was not good because I earned too little money. It wasn’t enough to buy what my family needed. I had to pay rent, and the food aid had stopped.”
Your support and prayers have enabled the church in Homs to start a sewing workshop, where Shiveen is able to earn a better income. She says, “I am excited about this job. We’re making something, and getting an income. It is so good that we are producing here, that we can sell the products.
“This factory is a wonderful step for our future. We thank you so much for your help. I want to thank everyone who has contributed even just a penny to the benefit of the people who are in need. I want to thank everybody who has given. The projects are strengthening the people, and providing us with a new start.”
HELP THE CHURCH TO CONTINUE TO SHINE THIS CHRISTMAS
Your support and prayers are keeping hope alive for our brothers and sisters in Syria, and helping the church to continue to shine as a light in the darkness. Pastor Abdalla says, “During the crisis we saw the church worldwide act like one family, supporting us, praying for us, helping us. That made a difference.”
Will you continue to stand with your church family in Syria this Christmas? Your gift could provide a winter relief pack to help a vulnerable Syrian family survive, and contribute towards setting up a small business to give a mother or father the dignity of providing for their own children.
Every £26 can provide a family in Syria with a winter relief pack for a month
When asked how his community would be celebrating Christmas this year, Pastor Abdalla said that, as they put lights on their tree, they will be reminded of Jesus, the light of the world. “This light is still giving light in people’s lives during the crisis. It’s the same light that has been through the ages.”
As you put up your own Christmas decorations, please pray that the light of Christ will continue to shine through the church in Syria.
Why not make your church family from Syria a part of your Christmas celebrations at your local church? Order a free Sing for Syria church pack, bursting with resources and ideas to help you get started.