How many Christians are there in Syria?
Syria has about 638,000 Christians, about 3.3% of a population of 19.6 million. The number of Christians in the country has decreased in the past decade, as many have fled conflict and persecution.
How are Christians persecuted in Syria?
Christians in Syria still grapple with daily persecution that may become violent, despite the public threat from so-called Islamic State having largely subsided. In areas where Islamic extremist groups are active, any public expression of faith is dangerous. Sharing the gospel is very risky, and church buildings have often been completely destroyed. The abduction of church leaders continues to have a considerably negative impact on Christian communities.
As the Christian population of Syria has diminished due to the civil war, more and more Syrian Christians come from a Muslim background. This makes them additional targets – including from their own family, who may attack or reject converts. A Christian woman who converts while married to a Muslim is likely to face divorce and losing custody of her children, since Sharia (Islamic law) dictates that rights are given to the Muslim parent.
Additionally, every Christian in Syria lives with the constant realisation that Islamic extremists have not necessarily left Syria – they've just retreated into the shadows, and they may return to public life again in the future.
Is it getting easier to be a Christian in Syria?
Syria has dropped three places on the Open Doors World Watch List, and this is largely due to a decrease in violence. Praise God, there were no reports of Christians being killed for their faith in the past year (compared to nine in the year before). But pressure remains extreme on Christians, and there was an increase in the number of church attacks and Christians arrested for their faith – so our Syrian family still need our prayers.
How can I help Christians in Syria?
Please keep praying for your brothers and sisters in Syria. Your gifts and prayers make an enormous difference to those following Jesus no matter the cost.
Open Doors partners strengthen the church in Syria through Bible distribution, discipleship and leadership training, trauma counselling and Centres of Hope, which support Syrian Christians and their communities.
Almighty God, we ask You to look with compassion on Your people in Syria. They have endured so much in the past 10 years, and they continue to live in danger and pain. Please comfort them. Deliver them from their sorrows. Bring to mind the joy and peace of Your Son, Jesus, that they may bear the weight of persecution well. Strengthen their hearts, Lord. Amen.