Syria (MNN) — Under a new name, the terrorist group al-Qaeda is growing in size and influence in Syria.
Rebranded as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, Iraq’s al-Qaeda branch is joining a myriad of rebel groups trying to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Though the Islamic State isn’t the biggest rebel group in Syria, an influx of fighters from surrounding nations is helping them gain ground. One source recently told the Washington Post that “at least 17,000 foreigners had joined rebel forces in Syria, most of them from Saudi Arabia and Tunisia.”
Another expert told Post that Syria’s in the heart of the Middle East, surrounded by Turkey, Israel, Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon. This makes it a strategic foothold for the Islamic State.
Despite the rising threat of radical Islam, Baptist Global Response (BGR) is helping refugees in the region. In one of Syria’s neighboring countries, BGR partners are helping Syrian Christians find shelter and basic needs.
Using resources provided by the Southern Baptists’ Global Hunger Relief, they’re providing food vouchers for 350 people that can be redeemed in local markets for food and hygiene items. It’s an effort between the local Assyrian church, Istanbul Compassion and BGR.
Daily wages are minimal and adequate food is in short supply. Pray for cooperative marketplaces so the voucher system will function well and help refugees get the food they need.
Along with living out the Gospel through prayer and practical aid, BGR partners are sharing it verbally, too. Ask the Lord to protect them.
BGR partners are helping refugees of all faiths. Earlier this month, workers visited five refugee families, all Muslim.
They were discussing the refugees’ situation and needs when one of the young women brought up a concern. After bringing her and their two children to the refugee camp, the woman’s husband returned to Syria to check on other family, property and belongings.
While he was there, the government closed the border. He was unable to return to the camp.
Though she was able to talk to her husband periodically on the phone, this young woman had not seen him for over a month. BGR partners prayed over this young woman, as well as the other refugee families.
Later, these Gospel workers found out the woman’s husband returned a day after they prayed for him. Pray Jesus will keep showing His power among Syrian refugees.