Syria (MNN) — Ukraine has taken over the world’s spotlight, but developments in Syria are cause for concern: believers are running out of options. David Curry of Open Doors USA explains: “Over the past several months, Christians have increasingly been caught in the cross-fire of the battle between those that are loyal to the government and the Muslim extremists.
“Some extremist groups have been quoted as saying, ‘We’ll either kill you or you’ll have to leave.’ There’s a concerted effort to put Christians in the middle of these battles because they want them to leave; they want to impose Sharia law.”
Believers in Homs are standing firm, though: Open Doors says a small group of 28 Christians is refusing to leave the city. They feel that if they leave, there will be nothing to return to when things calm down.
“Extremists and/or government loyalists will claim a historic Christian site as a battleground…and it basically creates these situations where Christians are forced to leave their homes–historic Christian villages, historic Christian places–and maybe lose their homes, maybe never be able to come back,” explains Curry.
Last month, hundreds of Syrians were evacuated from Homs during a temporary ceasefire. At the same time, humanitarian aid and food were brought in. But it wasn’t enough, according to Dutch Jesuit priest Frans van der Lugt.
“They [the UN] brought pans and cloths the people didn’t need. We need rice and food. That didn’t come in sufficiently,” he told Dutch NOS Radio 1 during the evacuation.
“There is a huge lack of food. At our breakfast, we eat olives and drink tea. In the afternoon, we make soup with what grows between the stones on the street. In the evening, we just see what we can get.”
The “starvation tactics” used by Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government, wherein cities are constantly shelled to prevent movement of goods and people, are taking a toll. Rebels are reportedly striking ceasefires with local governments, turning in their weapons to authorities so that food and medical aid may enter the city.
Open Doors is partnering with churches and Christian partners to help 8,000 families in Syria, including relief products.
“We provide food and water and assistance to help people survive,” explains Curry. “We want to make sure that Christians have the ability to stay and to remain in their home country.”
There’s a way for you to help, too.
“We need to have Christians in the West calling their representatives in Congress and Senate and saying, ‘Hey, will you please pay attention to what’s happening to Christians in Syria?’” says Curry.
“A lot of times, people don’t realize Christians are being targeted…but it’s becoming a big problem.”
Pray for strength and courage for the believers choosing to stay in Syria.