Syria (MNN) — Sectarian violence is on the rise throughout
Syria, a troubling addition to the tension-filled uprising.
The European Union is considering new sanctions to try to
quell the brutality. However, over the
weekend, the government massed troops for an apparent assault on a Sunni town
near the Iraqi border.
The looming confrontation follows a bloody Friday in which
Syrian security forces opened fire on large protests around the country. E3 Partners spokesman Tom Doyle says the latest threat of violence has
disillusioned many Syrians. "They're seeing Muslims killing Muslims, and some of
the Muslims are reaching out to
believers saying, ‘We don't see this anger and hatred with you. We need your
prayers. Can you talk to us?‘ And in
some cases, Muslims have prayed to receive Christ."
Passions are high, and that can mean trouble for believers
caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. "We do know of some Christians that have escaped from situations where
there were riots against the government, and all of a sudden, the Christians
were targeted." With a sectarian split between
the government's Alawites and Sunnis and ethnic Kurdish protesters as one
possible outcome, Gospel work has seen a
slowdown. "[Christians] just are kind of staying
low, at this point, to stay out of the fray. Even though this is against the government, it could easily turn on them
at a moment's notice like it has in some other cities."
Many of E3's partners in the region have nowhere to go to
escape from the upheaval. Doyle explains
that "it's virtually all over Syria. We're hearing from national leaders
[that] it's everywhere. They're in it. They're trying to be smart and careful,
but yet they can't really go anywhere to escape from it. And so they are just
praying that God uses them in the midst of the uncertainty and the violence."
also concern for the future of the Christian Community should President Bashar al-Assad's government fall from power. Dolye says, "There's
no way to predict if this dictator was removed, who would be the next one…would
he be any better, would he be any worse?" Already, believers have noted the involvement of Islamists like the Muslim Brotherhood.
Given this scenario, Syria's 1.4 million Christians could be
facing the same position as Iraq's annihilated Christian community. Doyle asks us to "pray for the believers in Syria in above-ground
churches and house churches and parachurch ministries that are there trying to
bring Jesus in to this very dangerous and chaotic place."
Because Syria has been stable and calm for 30 years, the last four
months have turned everything upside-down for believers. Doyle urges other Christians to "[pray] that they would remain bold during
this time, filled with Christ's love and sharing wherever they go. In times of
uncertainty, there's a high receptivity rate to the Gospel."