Why are Americans so apathetic toward Syria?

By December 29, 2016

Syria (MNN) — While the conflict in Syria intensifies, it seems as if Americans — specifically Christians — are only becoming more apathetic.

(Photo courtesy of E3P)

(Photo courtesy of E3P)

According to a survey by World Vision, 38 percent of those who described themselves as committed Christians had taken action for refugees in the past two years — a six percent drop from 2015. In 2015, 40 percent of Christians said they prayed for refugees, while only 19 percent of Christians said they did in 2016.

“The news nightly just pounds away with pictures and videos and new statistics, and after a while it really has an adverse effect on people to where they almost just tune it out,” says Tom Doyle, vice president of church and ministry partnerships for e3 Partners and author of Killing Christians.

Fear is another reason why Christians’ willingness to support refugees has dwindled. According to a survey from February by LifeWay Research, 56 percent of Baptist pastors and 50 percent of Pentecostal pastors say their congregations fear refugees coming to the U.S. Doyle says that while many Americans’ fears of letting refugees into the country are valid, Christians are called to look past them.

“We have to look at, ‘What is the role of the Church?’ Doyle says. “God has called us to the nations to preach the Gospel, and the nations are coming to us. The 10/40 window is now just outside our window. And so we have a great opportunity. That’s one of the reasons we’ve tried to tell the stories. I think people need to hear stories, not so much statistics. Statistics are just data. They kind of fly by us, but stories can touch the heart.

“I think the refugees are almost like the lepers of the New Testament. Nobody wants them…. There have been some bad things, so part of the fears are founded in truth. I think it’s easy for us to just label Syrian refugees, ‘Oh, they could be bad news, we have to be careful because of their desperation.’ Many of them are just looking for a way to live without being in extreme danger. They want to raise their kids, they want to send them to a good school, they want to feed them good food.”

(Photo courtesy of E3P)

(Photo courtesy of E3P)

Doyle explains just how much of an impact refugees could make for Christ if only they were given a chance. He tells the story of one man and his family who is moving from Syria to Texas. He was tortured both by the Islamic State and Syrian government before escaping and making his way to Jordan. There, he was embraced by a group of Christians, who led him to Christ. Now, he and his family are passionate believers.

“He is on fire for Jesus,” Doyle says. “He has seen the worst of humanity, but then he has seen who Jesus is through the lives of believers.

“Can you imagine if there was a movement among Syrian refugees, and they became a great missionary force in the next several years? That could happen, because they have nothing, and as they come to faith in Christ and they experience his love, they want to tell others.”

E3 Partners is working in numerous communities throughout the Middle East, Europe and the U.S., providing food and clothing and hosting sports camps. You can make a difference too, whether its donating or taking a missions trip with e3 Partners.

Remember also to pray for hope for refugees as well as for an end to the violence.


  • Dear friends, thank you for this article about the Syrian refugees. Is your organization able to help them directly? You are so right that we need to pray for the refugees. Thank you for bringing this yo light.

  • Reagan Hoezee says:

    Hi John,

    We do not directly help refugees, but we raise awareness for organizations that do like e3 Partners. You can learn more about their work at their website: http://e3partners.org/

  • John – My name is Matt and I manage communications for e3 Partners. Yes! We have a number of initiatives that directly serve refugees. We have opportunities to give to their basic needs and many trips going out to serve them throughout the year. I’ve been on a few myself and their incredible. If you’d like to learn more, feel free to email me directly and I’ll point you in the right direction.

  • Elvin Harden says:

    the article reminded me of the lack of prayerful concern for the people of Syria. Thank you for the gentle nudge.
    Elvin Harden

  • Just hearing stories of the Syrian refugees in the face of everyday death and war, torture and persecution and hunger and great loss brings such shame and conviction. I have enjoyed the ease and comfort of living in America. Born in the 50’s, a time of such prosperity, was hard because my mother was left to raise 4 children with no financial or moral support from my dad. In fact, he left town with another woman, humiliating my mother in the process. My mother’s kin were both the leaders and the congregation of a small Pentecostal church that held services every Sunday morning and evening, and every Tuesday and Thursday evenings. I recall rocks being thrown at the church building, as kids called out, “Hey, Holy Rollers.” My dad had also left my mom alone to raise 4 children with no help, so she struggled just to feed and shelter us kids. I wouldn’t call anything I went through in my 64 years actual suffering. Did growing up in such a blessed country make me grateful and bold for Christ? No. Instead, I became a Peter, who hid my whole family’s Holy Roller beliefs and told stories about my dad returning someday soon from his tour in the military. And boy was I happy when I was 11 or 12 and our little Pentecostal church closed and we either attended “mainstream” churches, like First Assemblies of God, or we traveled to big churches in Philadelphia or upstart churches held in school auditoriums. Recently, I’ve been feeling depressed and sorry for myself because, after smoking from age 14, I ended up hospitalized for being oxygen deprived and, unless I am healed, I may require oxygen 24 hrs a day. Hearing about the sufferings of the Syrians and others throughout the world makes my problem seem so minor. Americans and all others living in peace and prosperity should pray continually for those suffering throughout the world. We have no idea when it might be us in need of others prayers. God, I pray that the Gospel will go forth in power and authority and there will be many that hear, receive and believe on Jesus Christ as Savior and our soon coming King. Amen.

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