Syria bloodshed continues despite peace plan

By March 28, 2012

Syria (MNN) — Syria has accepted a peace plan by U.N. envoy
Kofi Annan that includes a cease-fire by the Syrian government, and not a
moment too soon. The United Nations
estimates more than 9,000 civilians have been killed
in the Syrian uprising.

Carl Moeller, president and CEO of Open Doors USA
explains: "The six-point plan has
some of the characteristics of primarily protecting the human rights situation
and protecting the citizens of Syria on the ground from all the
indiscriminate violence that's going on to suppress the rebellion." The peace plan finally got UN Security Council backing
last week as a last-ditch effort to ease the crisis. What's different this time? Both Syria and
China are on board.

The good news is that part of the plan includes a cease-fire
by the Syrian government, a daily two-hour halt to fighting to evacuate the
injured, and Syrian-led political talks to address the concerns of the Syrian
people. Moeller says, "I also think that there's some hope that the Christian community will find a bit more security in
this settlement rather than a protracted civil war."

However, even as that news burst into the headlines, there
was more bloodshed. Intense clashes
between government troops and rebels spilled across the border into Lebanon. The
question of how the peace plan will be implemented is still being determined,
says Moeller. He goes on to note that
brutality has been a hallmark of the region for a long time. "For a number of years, we were kind of
lulled into sleep: 'Yes, Syria is a bad player, but they're not THAT bad.'
We forget how bad the regime was when the Baathists came to power and how
brutal the suppression of enemies has been."

Meanwhile, past history aside, a "Friends of
Syria" summit is slated to begin on
Sunday in Turkey, but bickering among Syria's opposition threatens to derail
positive forward movement in the crisis. Ironically,  
"This is probably the best outcome that the Christian community
could have currently hoped for, because it does retain a certain amount of
stability with the continuance of the government. While the government may need
to make  compromises, at least they'll
still be in power, and the Christian
community will have some level of protection."

Since March 2011, there has been a rise in the number of
fundamental Islamic groups operating in the country. There have been reports of
Christians being threatened and churches being raided. With the advent of the new accord, "If
the resolution of this ultimately results in an extremely Islamic conservative
state, then the Christians will be far more threatened by that than they would
be by the continuance of the Assad regime."

The unknowns are such that believers can only say they are
cautiously optimistic about the news. There
is one thing coming from this scene that Moeller wants to highlight: "I'm
convinced that much of the turmoil we're seeing in the Middle East is
actually producing a spiritual openness in people and people are coming to
faith in Christ. We've heard tremendous reports in other countries. I'm sure that
in the next few months, as these stories
come out, we will hear of Christian witness and courage."

Even though Syria ranks 36th on the Open Doors World Watch
List 2012, Moeller says, "In the midst of chaos, the Holy Spirit continues to produce a hunger for spiritual
relevance and truth. Pray that throughout Syria Christians would be faithful
to their love of Jesus, to share the good news of Jesus to people who are
searching in the midst of these crises."

Pray for an end to the bloodshed and for any change of
government to lead to greater freedom for the people of Syria. Pray, too, that the church will have strength
to stand firm and bring the light of Christ to their nation.


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