|(Photos of Homs protest|
courtesy of 'Syriana 2011')
Syria (MNN) ― While Libya was fighting for freedom from a dictator and Egypt was planning out its new government, Syria was quickly deteriorating in the background.
Syria has in many ways slipped under the international radar. The U.N. recently raised the death toll for protesters killed since March to 3,500. The estimate was deemed "conservative," according to Al Jazeera.
Demonstrations against the nation's dictator Bashar al-Assad have been taking place for months. The Syrian government has frequently responded with gunfire, resulting in the 3,500 lives lost.
Yet, Paul Estabrooks with Open Doors says, "The U.N. stepped up Libya, but nothing has ever been decided or done in the case of Syria."
And the situation is worsening.
Although the Arab League Agreements have forced the Syrian army out of some regions, the decision has meant bad news for Christians. Open Doors reports that the army pulling out of Homs has been disastrous for believers.
"Under Assad, they've actually had a relatively quiet and peaceful life, but now things have changed," observes Estabrooks. "For example, the city of Homs, which is the third-largest city of Syria, had the military pull out recently, and Islamic extremists and armed civilians have taken over the city. And they're threatening our brothers and sisters there."
The threats have given way to the deaths of at least two Christians and to extreme fear. A Catholic priest reported that many believers are not leaving their homes anymore.
Estabrooks explains, "Christians in general, and women, in specific, are being threatened and told to leave the city. There are checkpoints everywhere they go. And these checkpoints are not military people. They're local vigilantes of extremists who are telling them to leave the city, that this is a Muslim city, that 'we don't want you Christians here, and you should get out.'"
Miraculously, the church is still growing in Syria, but Christians are begging for one thing. "In these recent cases, the Christians in Syria are just pleading with us to remember them in prayer. They said, ‘We need prayer--now more than ever before.'"
Pray for protection for believers. Pray that God's children will remain a light in these darkest of times.
Estabrooks encourages you to alert your representatives about the plight of Christians in Syria.