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Tartus caught between epicenters of terror

By August 31, 2015
Bombed out bus in Aleppo, Syria.  (Photo, caption courtesy Christian Aid Mission)

Bombed-out bus in Aleppo, Syria.
(Photo, caption courtesy Christian Aid Mission)

Syria (CAM/MNN) — As ISIS tries to wrestle control of Aleppo and Damascus out of government hands, seaside Tartus absorbs the fall-out.

Christian Aid Mission reports ISIS made steady gains toward Damascus this month, even as it continues fighting for Aleppo–the war-torn country’s largest city.

The terrorists allegedly used chemical weapons in a recent attempt to take Marea, a town north of Aleppo. According to U.S. and German officials, ISIS has also used chemical weapons against Kurdish soldiers.

Caught in the middle, Syrians like Samir who are taking refuge in Tartus are running out of options.

Samir has no money, no job, and his kids are begging him for food because they haven’t eaten in days. He has nowhere to turn, and ISIS is on his doorstep.

The only glimmer of hope comes when local missionaries supported by Christian Aid Mission tell Samir about a God-man called Jesus.

Samir’s story

Two of the many children in Syria who have seen the horrors of war take comfort in weekly Christian programs, and they find trustworthy friends in the volunteers who organize activities with the help of local churches.  (Photo, caption courtesy Christian Aid Mission)

Two of the many children in Syria who have seen the horrors of war take comfort in weekly Christian programs, and they find trustworthy friends in the volunteers who organize activities with the help of local churches.
(Photo, caption courtesy Christian Aid Mission)

Samir and his family fled from an undisclosed city in Syria when rebels demanded $1,000 a week and told the men in his family that they must join their ranks.

The indigenous leader of a Tartus ministry assisted by Christian Aid Mission says when night fell, Samir paid a taxi driver $350 to help them flee. The driver left and did not return.

“They hired another driver but were stopped by a gang and robbed of the rest of their money,” said the ministry director (name withheld for security reasons).

“The taxi was stolen, and Samir, his family and the taxi driver were all left stranded on the road with no money, still miles from Tartus.”

The family walked and hitchhiked to the Mediterranean coast, begging for food and hiding from bandits and insurgents.

“Once they arrived in Tartus, Samir’s two oldest sons left to join the fighting, with the promise of $2,000 a month,” the director said.

“Within three weeks, their bodies were returned for burial. Samir was left with no money, no job, hungry younger children, and a despondent wife.”

In Aleppo, Syrian Christians pray amid ravages of war.  (Photo, caption courtesy Christian Aid Mission)

In Aleppo, Syrian Christians pray amid ravages of war.
(Photo, caption courtesy Christian Aid Mission)

Christians who befriended Samir in Tartus had no money to offer him, but they prayed and shared blankets and meals. One also hired Samir to do some work. They all shared Christ with his family.

Today, Samir’s family attends Bible studies and reads the New Testaments they have received. The director said knowledge of God’s love is giving them some comfort amid the turmoil in their lives.

Their view of Christ still tends to fluctuate, he said, but they do take increasing comfort in His sacrificial death on the cross for them.

Please pray with us that Samir and his family will accept Christ’s free offer of salvation.

The bigger picture

(Photo courtesy Christian Aid Mission)

(Photo courtesy Christian Aid Mission)

Besides the social and psychological trauma of war and losing their businesses and jobs, people like Samir live in crowded basements and tents in unsanitary conditions that often lead to serious disease. Many lack access to clean water. Some sleep on the streets.

They also need food, medicine, and clothes to prepare for cold weather, the director tells Christian Aid Mission. His ministry has not only found strategic ways to share the Gospel with Muslims, but it also works among Domari Gypsies–a stateless and illiterate people who are often abused.

To help prevent unscrupulous people from taking advantage of the Domari, the ministry provides the Gypsies with literacy training.

“Teaching the Gypsies to read and write allows Gospel workers to build relationships through which they can eventually share the Good News of Christ,” the director said.

The ministry team includes a medical doctor whose work has also helped the team build relationships and trust. The group has been assisting displaced people for four years in spite of few resources. They are praying for assistance in order to provide medicine, clothing, and food for 50 displaced families (four members, on average) for $65 a month.

Sorely-needed community water supply and sanitation facilities for 25 shelters or tents would require $10,000. The ministry also plans to provide 50 families with tents furnished with cooking stoves, cookware, dishes, blankets, and electricity at a cost of $1,200 per shelter.

(Photo cred: Christian Aid)

(Photo credit Christian Aid)

Provide emergency help for people fleeing ISIS here.

“The displaced people fled the missile attacks, cluster bombs, and barrel bombs that wrought havoc and destruction on cities and villages across Syria,” the director said.

“We pray our ministry among these people will flourish, and many will come to know Jesus as Savior and Lord.”

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