Syria (MNN) — The United States missile strikes on a Syrian airbase in response to the chemical bombings in northern Syria last week caused quite a stir. Now Trump officials have told Russia that it needs to drop this campaign of support for Assad.
These recent interactions could dampen the U.N.’s attempt to broker a 72-hour ceasefire between the U.S., Russia, Syria, and Iran so humanitarian aid envoys can get through to civilians in besieged areas.
The Aleppo citadel before Syria’s civil war. (Photo courtesy of Varun Shiv Kapur via Flickr under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License: https://goo.gl/QXlFrO)
Steve Van Valkenburg with Christian Aid Mission says the situation for citizens is still dire even in major government-controlled Syrian cities like Aleppo.
“For the most part, there’s no electricity…no running water, so people have to be very innovative just to survive there…. Often the people who are left are the more vulnerable people. Those who have the ability and the wherewithal have left.”
Meanwhile, individual rebel pockets remain in Aleppo, and the Syrian government is intent on preventing any sort of rallying effort.
“Anytime you have a population that people are mixing around, you’re going to have like a guerrilla warfare. You have people who are there that can easily set up bombs. The ISIS-type people in Aleppo, they’re still there. Whether they never left or they come back, they can still cause havoc.”
Because of the potential for further rebel infiltration, the number of government checkpoints has increased. Christian Aid Mission supports relief efforts through the Church in Syria. They recently reported that sending aid is becoming more difficult. “Sometimes they are caught at checkpoints, and food is taken sometimes,” says Van Valkenburg.
(Photo courtesy of Vision Beyond Borders)
Although they’ve hit a few barriers, the local Syrian Christians are persisting to serve as the hands and feet of Jesus, and the support of the global Church enables them to do so. They distribute food and basic necessities, and host prayer tents.
“In Aleppo, you have the prayer tents where people can come and they just want somebody to pray with them, even though they may be Muslim. They want somebody to pray with them for their needs, so they come and they ask for prayer, they’re going to hear the Gospel, they’re going to take with them New Testaments and Gospel tracts.”
Van Valkenburg says Syrian Christians will even gather to read the Bible aloud together, and they invite their Muslim neighbors who are willing to join.
“The silver lining to this is that when things are hard for Christians, they’re having a very close, intimate walk with God. Even though things are very hard for them, still they are 100 percent dependent upon God to help them and to give them strength.”
Here’s how you can encourage the Church in Syria today: “Pray for them, that they would be encouraged spiritually and that God would give them the ability and boldness to reach out in the name of Christ. [Pray] that God would powerfully work through them and that they would have a joy and a confidence.”
Click here if you’d like to support Christian Aid Mission as they send relief to Syria. The option to donate is at the bottom of the ministry article.