Syria (MNN) — Grief and trauma tend to go hand-in-hand.
Because trauma of any kind most often involves a loss–loss of a loved one, loss of health or home, etc., grief over that loss is a natural response.
How an individual overcomes or processes that grief–also known as grief recovery–determines future well-being.
For example, “Aafa” (name changed for security reasons) could’ have chosen to obsess over his losses and quit the ministry he is involved in.
Instead, by God’s grace, he’s moving forward with new perspective.
“He’s getting better, he’s still processing it,” shares Steve Van Valkenburg with Christian Aid Mission.
“You feel like you’re a parent over them; you’re a spiritual ‘father.’ And then, to see them crucified: it’s not easy.”
Grief recovery: Aafa’s story
Aafa is a Syrian ministry leader helped by Christian Aid Mission. In recent days, he learned that 11 indigenous missionaries he trained, and one of the leader’s children, were crucified by the Islamic State.
“These things have been very hard on me,” he told Christian Aid Mission.
“What wrong did those people do to deserve to die?”
On separate occasions in August, Gospel workers who were previously kidnapped by ISIS were brought before crowds in a Syrian village. After determining the workers were Muslim-background believers (MBBs), terrorists ordered them to denounce Christ and return to Islam.
When the first group of believers refused, the terrorists made an example of them.
“All were badly brutalized and then crucified,” Aafa told Christian Aid. “They were left on their crosses for two days. No one was allowed to remove them.”
The second group of Christ-followers, also trained by Aafa, met a similar fate in a different part of the village.
“Villagers said some were praying in the name of Jesus; others said some were praying the Lord’s Prayer, and others said some of them lifted their heads to commend their spirits to Jesus,” said Aafa.
“One of the women looked up and seemed to be almost smiling as she said, ‘Jesus!’”
Grief recovery: changing focus
Against such a dark backdrop of tragedy, grief recovery isn’t an easy process. Focusing on the martyrs’ agenda, says Van Valkenburg, is helping Aafa move forward.
“Their goal was that people would come to Christ,” says Van Valkenburg.
“Up to their dying breath, that was their whole goal: that they would see people, their villagers, come to Christ.”
With Christian Aid Mission’s help, Aafa and some of his peers are staying in Syria to share the Gospel. Help them survive and continue operating their ministries here.
Please pray for Aafa as he continues in his grief recovery, and ask the Lord to protect believers who remain in Syria.
“I think the silver lining of it all is that we see hundreds of Muslim-background believers who are having ministries,” Van Valkenburg shares.
Taking the Word of God literally–especially Romans 8:36-39, “They see that this is the only hope for their Muslim friends: [salvation through] Christ.”