Syria (MNN) — The Syrian conflict turned nine this weekend. On March 15, 2011, protestors lined the streets and the government cracked down. When opposition forces hit back, the situation escalated into civil war. Read our Syria coverage here.
Today, more than 11 million Syrian people are displaced by the violence, both inside and outside of Syria; half of them are children. Fighting in northwest Syria is forcing thousands to seek shelter somewhere new – again.
Yet out of the darkness shines a glimmer of hope. Program for Theological Education by Extension Executive Director Victor Sadek says some of their biggest classes are within Syria. “The classes and the number of the students is growing and even increasing in the time of the war in Syria,” he says.
“People there are encouraged to carry on and study the Word of God through the time of war and time of persecution.”
A light among darkness
Many believers have fled Syria in the past nine years, but some remain. Others left when fighting peaked but later returned. Furthermore, new believers are emerging from Syria’s Muslim majority, and they’re eager to reach their fellow citizens for Christ. Read one example here.
Program for Theological Education by Extension helps these Christ-followers grow deeper in their faith and learn the skills needed to disciple others. Since PTEE’s training is church-centric and done online, it avoids trouble with authorities.
“We are the only theological training program operating in Syria. The students [don’t] have to leave their jobs or their homes, or this field of ministry, to go to the Bible school but the Bible school goes to [them],” Sadek says.
“This is really encouraging to see a lot of Christians from the Majority background[s] begin to grow and begin to study the Word of God.”
Inspired by the courage and dedication of these believers, Sadek is encouraging the local team in-person. More about how the PTEE program works here.
“My main [purpose] is to just watch and pray and write down what the main needs [are],” Sadek says. Using this information, PTEE will work with in-country leaders to assess “how PTEE is operating within Syria,” Sadek continues.
“We not only care about knowledge, we care about different holistic ministry service. [So,] we will write down what they are in need [of], what they’re suffering from.”
Along with using this information to support Syrian believers in more effective ways, PTEE wants to equip prayer warriors around the world. Sign up for PTEE’s email newsletter here to receive country updates and prayer requests.
How to help
Visit PTEE’s website to learn more about their work and how you can support the growing Church movement within Syria. Prayer is a good first step.
Pray for a swift end to Syria’s horrific civil war. Pray for the Church to be protected and expanded amid hostility. Ask the Lord to bless PTEE’s efforts to equip and empower Syrian church leaders. Find more prayer needs here.
Header image courtesy of E3 Partners.