|(Photo courtesy of Christian Aid Mission)|
Syria (MNN) ― This past week marked the bloodiest set of conflicts since the start of the Syrian civil war with a death toll of around 1,200.
The violence reached a climax over the weekend as President Bashar al-Assad’s military struck back against rebel forces occupying various districts of Damascus, the capital of Syria.
Government tanks and helicopters blasted the capital as pockets of rebels roamed the streets. According to The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, 140 Syrians, including 43 troops, were slain in the clash on Saturday.
The retaliation of Assad forces on the rebel-held districts of Damascus came after a six-day series of rebel attacks resulting in the assassination of four Assad top security officials last week. The rebels marked their six-day operation as “Damascus Volcano.”
Bill Bray with Christian Aid Mission says the increased Syrian violence is affecting refugee numbers. “What we saw over the weekend especially was just everywhere.... All of the missions and outreaches that we’re supporting in the front-line states are seeing a massive increase in refugees from Syria coming across the border: all kinds of refugees, but especially Christians.”
EU officials report that the number of Syrian refugees fleeing the country has reached 115,000.
Bray says one of their workers witnessed the waves of Syrian refugees fleeing by night. “He said it looked like army ants were coming across the border all night. Everywhere he could look, under fences, everywhere there’s a hole, they’re coming across.”
Yet the hope of the Gospel casts a beam of light on a seemingly devastating situation. Christian Aid Mission is providing funds for Syrian refugees to provide humanitarian aid such as food packs and housing, along with God’s Word.
“Over the weekend, 20 new believers were baptized, so evangelism is still going on. Church planting and small group Bible studies also continue…devotional fervor is high,” says Bray.
And in Lebanon, Christians aren’t just reaching out to refugees in their country. According to Bray, “While the Turks are allowing Syrian refugees to cross the border to some extent, they’re not allowing any mobilization of the Turkish Christians to reach out to them. But the Lebanese Christians are crossing the border. They are asking us for New Testaments and 15,000 New Testament CDs to distribute, so they are viewing the Turkish refugee camps as an evangelistic opportunity.”
Such an evangelistic opportunity for such a great need, however, requires funding. Bray states, “Just as fast as the money comes in, we’re sending it over. The need is tremendous: the need for housing, rent, [and] food packs. We can feed a refugee family for $90 a week.... And of course, there’s a great hunger for the Word of God. So giving out Bibles; that’s really an important part of the witness.”
Pray for the safety and salvation of Syrian refugees and for the safety of evangelizing Christians.