Muslims who hear the gospel from native Christian workers count a great cost before deciding to accept Him – their safety, health and ability to make a living are at risk in the face of opposition from family and neighbors. Already facing severe difficulties from an economy ravaged by war, they risk losing the social net that keeps them alive.
A Syrian refugee mother in Jordan had no money to treat debilitating illness, much less her children’s schooling, and they asked her why they couldn’t learn to read and write like other kids. Bombings had driven the family of nine from Syria, but not before dust and other pollutants of war had exacerbated her asthma.
“My condition continued to worsen as I suffered severe chest pains and struggled to breathe,” Rojda* said.
Her face riddled with anxiety, a Muslim woman told members of a Bible study group in Syria that her son had a high fever, and that she could not afford any medical care. She had heard that the Christians prayed, and she asked if they would pray for her son. “You know that we pray to Jesus, right?” the group leader said.
In a country in economic shambles from war, workers providing aid and emotional support have many opportunities to share Christ. A Muslim woman who regularly visited a home fellowship often disturbed services, but then one evening she admitted she was in spiritual bondage and needed prayer.
In spite of intense pressures and conflict, native workers have continued bringing compassion, hope and encouragement to people who have never heard about Christ as well as to those who are suffering for following Him. Workers have numerous opportunities to answer the questions of both new disciples and people who are considering becoming Christians.
Two devastating earthquakes and hundreds of aftershocks in Turkey and Syria have killed over 41,000 people, with the death toll continually rising, as people dig through the rubble of collapsed buildings in search of loved ones. Tens of thousands of people are now homeless in the bitter cold of winter.
You can help meet people’s greatest needs for items such as food, water, diapers, and blankets with your gift today. Ministry workers are on the ground in the hardest-hit cities to help uncover bodies and distribute emergency aid, but the needs are immense. In Turkey alone, over 5,600 buildings were destroyed. Syrian cities devastated by years of war were further demolished.
Even among a staunch Muslim population, people in the war-torn country show a readiness to hear and respond to the gospel. Bringing compassion and hope to those who know Christ and to those who have never heard of Him, native workers are helping the displaced, teaching the Bible and planting churches.
Leading Muslims to faith in Christ in Syria brings the discipleship challenge of helping them to withstand persecution, among other issues. Recently local missionaries stood with a woman whose husband and son were killed for refusing to deny Christ. “That is a hard thing,” the ministry leader said. “She says, ‘Every time I close my eyes, I see my husband and my son in front of me, how they killed them.’”
Syria is an economic disaster after nine years of civil war and the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the crisis has hobbled a native ministry as well – even as workers have seen more people come to Christ.
Economic chaos amid the pandemic has forced a native ministry to scale back its number of local missionaries while ratcheting up the intensity of its crisis response.
“As we are able, our leaders continue to distribute food and clothing to those that lack,” the ministry leader said. “Our target criteria: any person that is in need.”