Syria (MNN) — An estimated 1,400 people have been killed, tens of thousands have been arrested, and rumors are flying about brutal atrocities against civilians in Syria. Many in the nation have fled to the Turkish border and wait in anguish to see whether or not violence will push them out of the nation.
In the midst of the turmoil, a lot is expected: outside help, humanitarian aid, hygiene kits, even temporary housing. Perhaps the most unexpected thing is for the proverbial business to go on as usual.
And yet within Open Doors, USA, that's exactly what's happening.
In the midst of ongoing fighting and turmoil, Open Doors was recently able to hold with a women's conference in Syria. They hosted women from all over the country, and even from Iraq and Sudan.
It might seem like odd timing while the country's in an uproar, but Open Doors' president Carl Moeller says it's vital that the church be strengthened now.
"The hope of any nation is found in the church of Jesus Christ," explains Moeller. "The believers on the ground there–the ones who speak the language and are part of the local culture–are the ones that have to form the primary foundation and backbone for any rebuilding efforts that go on in places that are ripped apart by violence like that."
Moeller says its not only necessary to continue on with outreach so believers can rebuild, but when the conflict does end, the church will be prepared for anything.
"Now [Syrian believers] are much more afraid of the turmoil and the potential for Islamic extremists to take power in any overturned government or new government," says Moeller. "So there's much more concern about the persecution rising in the coming years."
By encouraging church growth in the middle of chaos, Open Doors is preparing Christians for any future persecution. In the meantime, believers will be ready to answer questions of those who are seeking–and many surely are.
"When people are bereft, and loss of life and property have made them question their very existence, pray that the Christians there would be able to point them to hope in Jesus Christ. In times of chaos like this, people's hearts are often more open to the Gospel than ever before," says Moeller.
Moeller adds, "We're praying for an end to the violence, of course, but we're also praying for the strengthening of the church, and for ministry to the Christians there in Syria." Pray with Open Doors to that end.