Syria (MNN) — Reports suggest the Syrian Orthodox Church is worried about "an ongoing ethnic cleansing of Christians" in the embattled city of Homs. Anti-government militants have expelled 90% of Christians in Homs and confiscated their residences by force, according to church leaders.
This report comes on the heals of additional sanctions against Syrian President Bashar Assad, his wife and other close relatives. The sanctions effectively freeze their assets and prevent them from traveling to European Union nations. The hope is to stop the violent clashes taking place between loyal troops and rebel fighters.
It's the 13th round of sanctions issued by the EU.
However, Christian groups aren't sure this is the best move for Christians, especially. Words of Hope broadcasts into Syria and other Middle Eastern nations in Arabic. The ministry's vice president Lee DeYoung says, "The Assad government certainly has a lot to answer for; by almost every measure, it's not a very admirable government. But many of the rebels are Muslim extremists, and it's the rebels who have really attacked Christians."
Hundreds of Christians have been killed, homes confiscated, and churches destroyed. DeYoung says, "[Christians] didn't have protection until the government retook that area. The government is not targeting the Christians. It's the rebels."
According to DeYoung, Words of Hope is having an impact in the region through radio. "That is also linked to a couple of Web sites that aren't necessarily identified upfront as Christian, but they engage people in conversation."
That conversation is important today. DeYoung says, "There's definitely searching that goes on right now. The internet opens up opportunities for two-way interactive communications when people have questions. Now there's more and more access to mobile phones, a lot of text messaging, a lot of use of social media."
DeYoung says Words of Hope is adding people to help with follow up ministry.
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