SYRIANS STILL SUFFERING ON 13th ANNIVERSARY OF WAR

The civil war in Syria rarely makes the headlines now, but the people there are still suffering immensely as a result of the conflict that started 13 years ago this week (15 March). Through its programming and Viewer Support team, SAT-7 continues to connect with Syrian viewers and remind them they are not forgotten.

The outlook in Syria is extremely bleak: 16.7 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance – up 1.4 million last year – and active conflict, including artillery shelling and airstrikes, continues to wreak destruction. Throughout the country, hundreds of civilians are still dying each year in the conflict, and in October 2023, north-west Syria experienced a significant escalation of hostilities. Over 120,000 people were displaced, while 27 schools, 20 water systems, and almost 40 health facilities were impacted by shelling.[1]

UNSHAKABLE FAITH

The country’s education system, infrastructure, and economy were already at breaking point when a series of earthquakes hit northern Syria in February from last year. As well as killing nearly 6,000 people in the country, the earthquakes destroyed vital community infrastructure and further damaged the futures of countless children, as thousands of schools were turned into shelters for homeless families.

SAT-7 ARABIC talk show You Are Not Alone made a special episode to mark the one-year anniversary of the disaster and to give a voice to those affected. The stories shared by the Syrian guests showed not only a great depth of suffering but also a great resilience of faith.

“We built our home, and it was gone in seconds,” Joseph Sioufyhen said. “Thank God for the pastor who gave us a temporary house to live in. Our house was destroyed completely. Our faith in Jesus, the church, and prayer, have kept us going.”

“The pain is huge,” lamented Aurore Estefan, who lost her sister, nephew, and niece in the earthquake. She shared how she felt upheld in her suffering: “The Lord strengthened me and gave me peace. The church supported us immensely during the trauma… [They are] my family now, who support me.”

DISPLACED BUT NOT DESPAIRING

The Syrian civil war has created the largest displacement crisis in the world; almost 7 million Syrians are internally displaced, and over 5 million have fled to neighbouring countries, including Türkiye, Lebanon, and Jordan.[2]

Najah, a Syrian refugee in Lebanon, got in touch with SAT-7’s Viewer Support team to share her story and seek help finding a church. “I moved to Lebanon because of the war in Syria,” she explained. “My father and mother are still there, and my sisters migrated to other countries, and I moved alone to Lebanon.” It has been an extremely tough few years for Najah, who was in desperate need of fellowship and discipleship. “I need a church to attend here,” she said. “I feel so lonely and drained.”

Najah is a believer, but her faith had suffered as a result of the difficult circumstances she was in. Through conversations and an individual discipleship program with the Viewer Support team, Najah started to turn back to God and recommitted herself to Him.

With the help of our team, Najah continued to work through some of the things that had held her back from a thriving relationship with God. As we highlighted the value of joining a church, Najah was eager to get started. A short while later, we heard from her again, and she shared that she now spends quality time with God every day.

Taline, a teenage Syrian girl now living in Iraq, recently shared some inspiring words on SAT-7 KIDS live show Behind the Door. “I’ve personally experienced the hardships of war, and there were nights when fear kept me awake,” she said. “To the kids facing difficult times, my prayer is to always hold on to your faith in Jesus. He will give you the strength to go on, and I encourage you to never stop praying, because it was my only refuge during war times.”

Please pray:

> For an end to the war, and for the provision of aid for those in need. Pray that displaced Syrians will be able to return home.
> That SAT-7’s programs will continue to encourage viewers in Syria, and that viewers will continue to reach out for support and prayer.

 

[1] Syrian Arab Republic: 2024 Humanitarian Needs Overview (December 2023) – Syrian Arab Republic | ReliefWeb
[2] https://reporting.unhcr.org/operational/situations/syria-situation

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