A staff member shares a message of hope from the Middle East.
September, 2014—What I thought was going to be a small meeting with five or six pastors from Syria is actually a full conference of 140 church leaders, both men and women. I was surprised that many have brought spouses and children.
When I asked them about the dangers of travel in this war-torn country one told me, “The bombs and missiles don’t come with an announcement. They drop from the sky without warning and you are dead. So it is no safer to stay home than to travel. You must believe God is protecting you or you will not survive.”
This is proving to be a very humbling experience—to be in fellowship and prayer with so many brothers and sisters who have suffered so much for their faith, so much pain and loss. Almost all have awful stories to tell, and share photos of their relatives and loved ones who have been killed by various factions in this evil war (one pastor showed me a picture of his cousin, who was killed the day after she became engaged). Yet they are here at the conference for three days to recharge and then go back to work.
A dangerous journey
Many have to drive for up to two days each way, navigating through war zones and dodging rebel Islamist patrols and bandits. I don’t think I have ever been with a group of believers who literally risked death to come to a conference. But as a result they are so hungry for teaching, worship and fellowship for Jesus that I am a bit overwhelmed to be here with them.
Our friends from the Middle East church are powerfully exhorting, encouraging, and energizing them for their return. They have a powerful vision, not just to see the church survive, but for it to grow and become the light and salvation of Syria. They have lost hope in the schemes of man, military strategies, and political or ideological leaders. They tell me, “Only Jesus can restore peace, only Jesus can bring unity to Syria.”
Pray for peace in Syria. Pray that these church leaders will continue to have the courage and faith they need to sustain them. Pray for comfort for their grief for lost family members. Pray for safety and protection for their flocks. Pray that their vision for the church in Syria is realized.
Do not be discouraged by the news reports. God is doing great things in Syria and the whole region.