Peace talks in Syria unravel

By January 30, 2014
(Photo courtesy Christian Aid Mission)

(Photo courtesy Christian Aid Mission)

Syria (CAM/MNN) — After three days of talks to find a solution to the Syria conflict, here’s what’s been accomplished: nothing.

According to the United Nations, things are so tense that negotiators couldn’t even agree on aid for trapped Internally Displaced People (IDPs) into the besieged city of Homs.

Meanwhile, as the civil conflict prompted millions to flee, the World Food Program estimates needing close to $2 billion to assist more than 7 million Syrians in urgent need of food assistance in 2014. These include 4.25 million people inside Syria and over 2.9 million refugees in neighboring countries. An estimated 5,000 Syrians are leaving daily and wondering when, if ever, they will be able to safely return to their homeland.

Christian Aid Mission, your link to indigenous missions, is stepping up its efforts to help alleviate the suffering and bring hope in the midst of desperate circumstances. Steve Van Valkenberg with Christian Aid says, “For Christians who have been praying for a way to show Christ’s love to Muslims, this is a great opportunity for Christians to be lights.”

(Photo courtesy Christian Aid Mission)

(Photo courtesy Christian Aid Mission)

Two years of civil war between President Bashar Assad’s Ba’ath party and opposing forces have left the country decimated and prompted the flight of some 2 million Syrians.

VanValkenberg explains that the refugees “have become the focus of much of the churches in all the surrounding countries. They are tired, they are weary. But it is a great opportunity…. I commend the Christians in those areas as they’ve been sacrificially reaching out and helping the refugees around them.” Mostly women and children, the refugees have sought sanctuary in the neighboring countries of Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq, and Egypt.

VanValkenberg adds, “In the midst of a world that’s turned upside-down, when they hear God’s Word preached, it’s something that they are longing for. They long for something that is solid, that has substance, and is meeting their needs.”

(Photo courtesy Christian Aid Mission)

(Photo courtesy Christian Aid Mission)

Christian Aid has been partnering with indigenous ministries in the Middle East to provide physical and spiritual assistance to refugees since the start of the crisis. The ministries are providing food, blankets, clothing, milk for children, and shelter to needy families, says VanValkenberg. “There’s been a deep appreciation for the help that Christians have given, and there’s openness there. [Refugees] want to know what the difference is between [what] they’ve experienced [with Muslims] and… what they find with the Christians that are lovingly giving out help.”

More importantly, they listen. They are also praying with the refugees, listening to their heartbreaking stories, and that willingness to be a friend builds trust. Eventually, that allows them to share the good news of the Prince of Peace: Jesus Christ.

But the need is immense, adds VanValkenberg. “The great heroes in all this would be the local people who are having ministries. I know it’s very hard on them. We need to pray for them because pretty much all of the Christians outside of the country have no option but to spend their time reaching out to the refugees because refugees are all over the place in the surrounding countries.”

They are pleading for Christians around the world to assist them through prayers and support. What kind? There are the usual needs for financial help, but also “there needs to be some way of helping, giving refreshment. The ministries we help are working 18-hours a day, 7-days a week. No rest, and they’re exhausted.”

Please pray for peace for this war-torn country and for comfort to those who have been traumatized by their experiences. Pray that the love of Jesus as demonstrated by Christian workers will open doors to share the Gospel with refugee families. Pray also for encouragement for Syrian believers and for reassurance that they have not been forgotten in the midst of the turmoil.

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