As though its travails were not enough, Syria was hit hard by the powerful earthquakes of February 2023. The worst-struck regions were already devastated by civil war. Millions may have been affected by damage to buildings. Due to ongoing conflict and difficult terrain, both aid and reconstruction efforts are hampered. In the aftermath of the destruction, there are those who spread darkness; women and children are particularly vulnerable to their predations. Pray that the Lord might constrain lawlessness and wickedness. There are also those who are working in many ways to share the restoration that comes through Jesus. Pray for extraordinary opportunities and fruit for those who seek to be Christ's hands and feet in Syria.
The anti-regime protests of 2011 led to a bloody civil war that continues today. An estimated 400,000 have died, more than 4 million have fled as refugees, and the strife continues. Half of the population were internally displaced due to the fighting. Government forces bombed city neighbourhoods and carried out mass killings. Opposition forces reacted with their own bombings and violence. Use of chemical weapons resulted in strong international condemnation. There is still no resolution to the deadlock, but bloodshed continues and at times spills over from Iraq or Turkey. Pray for an end to the violence, and for solutions that will allow Syrians a chance to rebuild their lives and their nation.
Syrian Christian minorities enjoyed freedom and stability in the past. The Orthodox and Catholic Churches existed here before Islam, and still have many godly members. Protestant numbers are small, but churches did grow. The government allowed foreign Christian workers to minister among Christians under the national Church. But the civil war has almost completely destroyed the Christian presence in some areas. Some radical Muslim groups want to erase Christianity from Syria, and in some places they intimidate, persecute, and even murder Christians. Massive numbers of Christians have left the country.
God used the faith and devotion of the early Church in Antioch (in Syria) in His mission to the Gentiles (Acts 13). Before the war, most modern Syrian cities had an evangelical presence. Pray that all believers might grow in godliness, and reach out to those around them. Pray for a future where skilled Christians with humble hearts can have a large role in efforts to rebuild the country, and in efforts to reach the Arab world. Pray for a return of Syrian evangelicals to their homeland.
Unreached peoples to pray for:
- The Sunni Arab majority, most have never heard the gospel.
- The Alawites are a minority but also the group that produces the presidents. They are very influential in the army and government. They are an offshoot of Islam whose beliefs differ much from orthodox Islamic faith, with some potential spiritual bridges to Christianity.
- The Druze in the south are a secretive offshoot of Islam. Though hard to reach in the past, there is increasing contact and response, with a few small groups of believers.
- The Kurds of the north and northwest are more receptive than most Arabs. Due to the politically sensitive nature of the Kurdish issue, it is generally difficult to engage them. Some are Orthodox Christian, others Yezidis and Shi'a, but most are Sunni Muslim.
- The Bedouin, Circassian, Turkmen and Gypsy minorities are mostly unreached. There are now some Christians among the Bedouin and Gypsy peoples, and there is hope of more.
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Content taken or adapted from Operation World, 7th Edition (2010) and Pray for the World (2015). Both books are published by InterVarsity Press. All rights reserved.