Syria (MNN) — Two Christians in Syria have been released after a kidnapping in that civil-war-battered nation.
According to SAT-7 — Christian satellite television for the Middle East and North Africa, on the evening of Monday, April 22, Mar Gregorios Ibrahim, The Syrian Orthodox Archbishop of Aleppo (Syria) was traveling with Metropolitan Paul Yazigi, the Greek Orthodox Archbishop in the same city. They were returning to Aleppo from a village near the Turkish border when armed gunmen stopped the car in the village of Kfar Dael, killed the driver, and kidnapped the two bishops. Reportedly, they had been attempting to negotiate the release of others who had recently been kidnapped by Syrian rebels, when they fell prey themselves. After a day of intense political efforts and the prayers of many, they were thankfully both released unharmed yesterday afternoon.
At the beginning of April, Mar Gregorios had given an interview with the BBC's Arabic Service and called for the Syrian government to allow free access to the media. He said that by allowing journalists to move about freely, it would show the "true picture of the tragedy suffered by Syrians."
At the end of March, Mar Gregorios attended SAT-7's annual Network Conference in Cyprus and spoke of the ongoing conflict in his beloved Syria during a panel discussion.
Bishop Munib Younan of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (also a SAT-7 International Council Member) said earlier today, "We know very well that the role these bishops are playing in Aleppo is to encourage the Syrian Christians and strengthen them to remain in their land." Bishop Younan had demanded their release and, thankfully, this has now happened.
SAT-7 provided special, extended live programming to cover the breaking news on the situation, inviting people to pray for the ongoing conflict in Syria and for an end to such abductions that have now become so commonplace.
SAT-7 is addressing needs in Syria with special programming. "One of those programs is called Kermalak, and it means, "For You." The presenter of that is a young man, Noor Botros, from Syria. He's consistently bringing guests on the show to speak about the conflict, to speak about how to stay encouraged in your faith."
There have been more than 75,000 deaths since the conflict started in Syria and more than one million refugees are now living in camps or temporary housing in nearby Turkey, Jordan or Syria. In addition, there are more than 4 million internally displaced persons (IDPs), and it is estimated that one-in-three homes and places of work have been destroyed or damaged in the fighting.