When life was at its hardest in Syria, your giving meant Open Doors was able to provide essential support to more than 2,800 Syrian families. Pastor Abdalla stayed with them. Now that people are returning and rebuilding their lives, businesses and communities, Abdalla still helps. His church is a Centre of Hope, restoring independent futures for Syrians.
When war came to Aleppo, Pastor Abdalla felt God calling him to stay in Syria. It wasn’t an easy decision. He risked persecution and violence, yet his courageous response to this calling helped keep hope alive in Syria.
Initially, Abdalla helped many Syrians who had immediate need for aid. Many people were dependent on food aid when their source of income was cut off by the war. At this time, Open Doors launched the Hope for the Middle East campaign to draw international attention to the persecution of Christians in Iraq and Syria.
Hundreds of thousands of people signed the global petition, prayed and gave money to fund emergency food parcels and medicine for those who had no other source of help. Thanks to you, hope stayed alive in Syria – despite the destruction, chaos and persecution. Abdalla and his church were there throughout.
A better future for Syria
Today, Syria is emerging from the crisis, and Syrians are starting their lives and communities afresh. Whether they are returning home or stayed throughout the war, Pastor Abdalla is there to help. While vulnerable families continue to receive vital food parcels, the Hope for the Middle East campaign is moving into a new phase in Syria. There’s a need to rebuild lives and communities for the long term.
“We need to encourage the Christians to stay,” says Abdalla. “We want to see a better future for Aleppo and Syria. As a church, we want to stand next to the people and help them.”
Pastor Abdalla’s church is doing just that, supported by Open Doors. His church has become a Centre of Hope, one of 16 such centres already established across Syria. Centres of Hope are not big buildings, but simple places where everyone can meet to develop the church as a place for hope in Syria. It is a low-cost concept run by the local church, and adapted to the local context.
Centres of Hope
Through Centres of Hope, Open Doors is providing relief aid, medical care, vocational training and loans, trauma care for those impacted by persecution, children’s activities such as English lessons as well as running marriage courses and Alpha courses. The idea is to help people move beyond dependence on relief aid and begin to become self-reliant again.
“We continue to see what help we can offer to the people,” says Abdalla. “For example, we help them to start a project [business] or give them microloans to start a small business. Three times a week we offer activities for children – the generation that got hurt the most in this war. We also have all kinds of programmes for women, couples and men. Every day of the week the church is busy.”
Centres of Hope offer assistance to people like George (below), who opened an electrician’s shop with a loan from Abdalla’s church. They help people who can’t afford the rising living costs of post-war Syria. They are lifelines to communities that lost everything and are starting again.
Vision for the future
Open Doors’ long-term commitment is to be there for the church, for as long as they need us, with whatever support they need. They haven’t given up on restoring hope to Syria; neither should we, their global church family.
Our vision is to open another 20 Centres of Hope across Syria, empowered by the prayers and resources of our global church family. They can establish resilient Christian communities that shine the light of Christ out into the region and the world. The vision is not only to see the church survive, but to see it thrive and share the power of the gospel - in Syria, Iraq and across the Middle East.
We mustn’t forget that, for many Christians, the threat of persecution remains. The so-called Islamic State may be largely defeated in Syria, but civil war continues. Their radical ideology is alive, and extremists still aim to wipe out the church from its birthplace in the Middle East. Church leaders like Pastor Abdalla remain at particular risk.
It’s a courageous and hope-filled vision - and, as Pastor Abdalla says, it’s a vision that needs the support of the global church if it is to succeed.
“I wholeheartedly want to say thanks to you who supported us, to the people, to the churches who helped us during the period of war,” Pastor Abdalla says. “We still need your help, we need people to stand with us.”
Please stand by him and other courageous leaders as they help restore hope in Syria.
*The total cost of this training and loan is £452 per person
- Thank God for Pastor Abdalla and the 16 Centres of Hope delivering help for vulnerable people in Syria through the local church.
- For Syrian believers starting new businesses, that they can be Christ’s light in their communities
- For a future of peace, reconciliation and reconstruction in Syria.