Syria (MNN) — Last week, the Syrian government announced it has finally reclaimed Aleppo — a major Syrian city and rebel stronghold in the uprising. A mass evacuation of civilians has begun, but the cost of the airstrikes and rebel fighting throughout the city has been high. Family members, homes, and livelihoods have been devastated.
You may have seen social media posts calling for donations for relief and evacuations in Aleppo, especially over the past several weeks, much due to the massive outflux of videos from people in Aleppo giving their goodbye messages.
Although Aleppo has been reclaimed by the Syrian government, the war is far from over. And the people and families — both in Syria and those who have fled as refugees — still need our help. But will the clarion call for support and compassion in Syria continue on popular channels and social media?
Christian Aid Mission’s Steve Van Valkenburg has this to say: “There is a certain kind of burnout we get when we hear news about one area, and Aleppo has sort of been off the radar for awhile, so it’s something that’s easy for the media to get back onto. The media is not really as intensely interested in what’s happening in Mosul as what you have in Aleppo. But I think it’s the kind of thing that catches people’s attention, because this is [a] new development and they know if the government does take over Aleppo, which apparently they have, then that’s going to bring a whole new dynamic to the uprising in Syria.”
One thing not many people may know? In the midst of all the NGOs going throughout Syria bringing physical relief, there is also a thriving ministry of Syrian Christians throughout the country giving humanitarian and spiritual aid — and they still need support.
“From the beginning of the problems there, there were ministries that were reaching out to people both with physical help and also spiritual help, and we’ve been sending funds to those ministries in Aleppo for a number of years now.”
It’s one thing to recognize that everyone around the world needs to hear the truth and hope Jesus Christ offers. But that fact is especially real to national Syrians and Syrian refugees who have suffered deep loss.
“That’s been really the strong point for Christians is that what we have is something that transcends just the physical needs and just the food and daily needs. We have something that actually does something within the person’s spirit. What we have is something that gives somebody something inside hope where their stomach may not feel filled but they can have their heart filled,” Van Valkenburg explains.
“When people have their heart filled or they see a God that does care for them, they see a God who became man and died for them and was resurrected to give them life, they have that hope within them and that can carry them through when there is nothing to fill their stomachs, but still they can have their hearts filled. And ultimately, that’s what people need is having their hearts filled and having a hope in Jesus Christ.”
Christian Aid Mission supports churches and Christian ministries in Syria and nearby countries like Turkey where there’s a steady stream of asylum seekers.
“We assist ministries in Turkey that are reaching out to these people and providing physical help and spiritual help. So when those people leave, even if they are very loyal Muslims, typically they are going to be very much open to anything that’s going to give them hope besides what they have become disillusioned with.”
Because of the security issues that often come with Christian ministry in tumultuous, Muslim-dominant countries, many believers serving in Syria do so quietly as they live out the Great Commission and share Christ with their neighbors.
“There are some great-hearted people there who are reaching out and we’re never going to know until eternity just the result of what their ministry has been and just the kind of hearts they’ve had to show the love that’s within their hearts for these people, even though it would be much easier for them to have left a long time ago.”
So what about you? What can you do today to help suffering Syrians in the name of Christ? Van Valkenburg has a few thoughts.
“I think when we receive these kinds of hurting people, there’s always opportunity for Christians to reach out in the name of Christ. Christians are the one who have that mandate from the Lord, and also that’s really our calling is we care for people, we are to love our neighbors as ourselves, and we’re to give a cup of cold water in the name of Christ. When we do that, we’re honoring our Christ.
“If people are interested, we will be sending their funds on to Aleppo and those people there reaching out with the Gospel and with physical help. They can contact us through our website which is www.ChristianAid.org and just list there that they’re interested in contributing to help the suffering in Aleppo or the refugees from Aleppo.”
Please also pray… for Christ’s healing amidst loss, for Christ’s strength amidst brokenness, and for the Christ’s hope to permeate the hearts of Syrians.