Syria (MNN) — It’s been nearly two weeks since the Syrian city of Raqqa was liberated from ISIS’ control. Raqqa was formerly ISIS’s de facto capital and operated as their command center. But even as Syria celebrates the end of Raqqa’s offensive, the war with ISIS is not over.
Steve Van Valkenburg with Christian Aid Mission says, “Now that the ISIS strongholds are being defeated like in Raqqa and other places near Iraq, there is an impact on the rest of Syria. One is that before, [ISIS] was all in one place. So they could be targeted there. Now as they spread out, they’re going to be coming up anywhere. So in some ways, it’s going to be less secure within areas that are now at peace.”
“The second implication from that is that because of government-backed ISIS type groups, that there are large population areas that are accessible because there is now peace there. That means that people can travel among large areas of Syria and that means Christians can travel in those areas too.”
In the coming months, citizens who fled Raqqa may begin to return home. But after the past several months of fighting, the infrastructure in Raqqa was destroyed — everything from water systems and sewage to the power grids. And even beyond Raqqa, the internally displaced persons (IDP) camps in Syria don’t fare much better.
Van Valkenburg says, “Often obviously they need food, but also there’s a lot of need for medical, dental type of services. There’s a real big need for counseling. People have seen all kinds of atrocities and they’ve experienced all kinds of griefs.”
The ministries that Christian Aid Supports in Syria provide trauma relief and humanitarian aid. “We’re continually sending funds to ministries in Syria as they are able to meet people and to meet physical needs like medical, dental, counseling needs, emotional needs, and there’s always the need for funds for those kinds of things.”
Report from a Ministry Worker in Syria
Timothy* is a ministry partner supported by Christian Aid who is able to get into Syria with desperately needed aid. He is even able to go into regions and cities where NGOs can’t or won’t go.
Timothy says, “The problem is there are no organizations who are inside very much who are helping, comparing with other countries around Syria.”
As we approach the winter season, there’s going to be a major need for blankets, hot water bottles, tents, and electric heaters. They’re also looking for professional surgeons who would work in their volunteer clinic. “Besides that, [we need] all kinds of baby diapers, milk, and formula for the children. You know, from the trauma, even the mothers are not able to give milk to their babies.”
The need can seem overwhelming, but you can give tangible support to Christian Aid so they can help get the needed supplies to Syrians for the winter. If you’d like to support this ministry, go to Christian Aid Mission’s website here and use gift code 400AWF to donate!
“Even one dollar or five dollars matter in the field today because, again as I mentioned, desperately the need is so big.”
The Salvation Year
One of the most exciting parts of Timothy’s aid outreach is the Gospel conversations that begin because of it. “In the last year, God has really opened a tremendous door for us to bring the Gospel openly. We’ve been there since 2003 officially, but since last year, God started to show us miracles on the ground.”
Because of this, he says, “We are calling 2018 a salvation year. We are expecting thousands of thousands of people who would come to Christ because we’re already starting to experience this for a couple months now.”
In all his years of serving in Syria, Timothy has never seen the richness of responses to the Gospel like he is seeing right now in the country. And it is astounding to watch God work through people’s hearts in ways you won’t hear about from the raw war reports and political pandering. The Holy Spirit is moving in Syria.
“We are not doing this big evangelism crusade or whatever. They are coming and asking us these things about this hope we have and about how we are able to do those things…. Then [we are] sharing with them about Christ and what God has really called us to do and to stand with people like them. They are really touched and they want to learn more.”
For example, Timothy shares this story: “Last month we had our free clinic and one lady was waiting on the waiting place for her time to come and she grabbed the New Testament we had on the table. Of course, we do put tracts and New Testaments [out] and some people take it. So the lady beside her was talking to her [saying], ‘Don’t take it! Don’t take it! These are Christian materials!’ And she said, ‘Yeah, I know that. I want to see what is in this book that they let them like us and help us and do all that they’re doing for us. I want to learn from them. I want to learn what is their God telling them about.’ It really touched my heart.”
A Prayer for Syria
Finally, Timothy offers this heartfelt prayer for Syria:
“Lord, I pray today, thank you first for what you already are doing in Syria in allowing us these tremendous open doors to reach out in your name. Lord, I ask you today that you would reach those people’s hearts who are desperate — eager for food or they’re maybe even some of them feeling cold and those children who are eating starch and water and sugar instead of formula or drinking milk. Lord, I ask that you would be supplying those people.
“And I ask for freedom for Syria. Lord, we call and shout for freedom to Syria. We ask that you would reach out to the government with your love and care. We know Lord that you did this before with Paul. You changed his heart. I will ask you that you will be reaching the government from high to low, each of them. Even those who are in ISIS, I pray Lord that miraculously they will see you and they will have a chance to meet with you in a dream or a vision. We believe that you are the Living God. We believe that you are who you are, that when you come to the people’s hearts, you melt it and make them another person.
“So Lord, we cry to you again for Syria and we say freedom and peace to this country, because we believe that this country is your country and that you also died for Syrians. In Jesus name, I pray, amen.”
*Name changed for security purposes.