We serve Christians around the world whose brave faith in Jesus means they are, beaten, threatened, imprisoned, tortured, falsely accused, disowned and hated.

Syria: First cafe opens in town destroyed in the war

pattern

Six years after Irbin was captured by rebels, Joseph Hakimeh returned to discover the town he once called home destroyed. “My heart was grieving,” he says. “Yet I decided not to surrender and promised myself to come back.”

It was then that he had a bold idea – one which you have helped him fulfil.

“The first time I returned to Irbin [a suburb of Damascus], the thought came to my mind that I should open a restaurant here,” he shares. “There is no such place in the whole area.” This year, with your help, Al Yousef Café opened.

“It is a place for the youth to gather, to play games, to watch football and for families to have a nice dinner together,” Joseph, now 42, explains. “Our space is also used for conferences. We’ve already had a doctor doing an educational conference for women. It is the only spacious hall in the city.”


Image: Joseph in his new cafe

Town held under rebel control for six years

This year marks ten years since Syria became engulfed in conflict. It was a year later, in 2012, when rebel groups forced Joseph, his wife and three children to flee Irbin to Damascus. They were among the thousands of Christians in Syria who were internally displaced because of conflict.

“That period was very hard, we didn’t know what to do or where to go,” Joseph remembers. “I have a family to look after. I studied electrical infrastructure, but I couldn’t find a good job. We went through tough times.”

“As soon as the road to Irbin was reopened I was on it,” Joseph continues, reflecting on the moment when the Syrian government retook the town in 2018. Returning there he witnessed desolation but, with the restaurant, also an opportunity. Three years on, the café is now open and Joseph hopes that all his family will soon be able to return to Irbin to live.

It’s similar for many Christians who lived in areas controlled by rebels. They don’t feel comfortable returning yet or, if they do, they’re unable to because their homes have been destroyed. Open Doors partners are helping vulnerable families rebuild their homes and communities – and, as with Joseph, restoring or finding new livelihoods so that families can have hope for the long-term.

For Joseph, the opening of the restaurant is the first step towards a bigger dream. “My dream is that Irbin will be restored to how it was before the war,” he says. “I was born here, as were my wife and three children. I want to bring my family back and settle here. The community of Irbin is very family friendly. The church taught us loyalty and care and that we are one family. I was raised this way and I want my children to experience this as well. I am very hopeful for the future; my children are a source of my hope.”

Amazingly, Joseph’s story is not unusual – again, thanks to the incredible generosity of Open Doors supporters like you. Through Centres of Hope run by Open Doors partners in Syria (40 in total), 1,734 income-generation projects have been created, helping people like Joseph start a restaurant, shop, small factory, workshop or agricultural business. Five have been started in Irbin. As Open Doors’ Hope for the Middle East campaign enters its sixth year, you’re helping ensure that hope continues to shine in the darkest places.

*Name changed for security reasons.

PRAY NOW...
1

Give thanks that Al Yousef Café has opened and is already blessing many local people

3

That displaced families will soon be able to return to Irbin.

2

For protection of Joseph, his family and the café, and pray that that it will bring hope to more and more people

Act now...
  • 1
    Get a free World Watch List map and learn more about the places where faith costs the most.

    Find out more
  • 2
    Take on the Choose to Lose Challenge and get sponsored to give up something you love for a short time to raise money and prayer for those who have lost much because of their faith in Jesus. Sign up to get a free pack.

    Find out more
NEWS
June 10, 2024

Please pray for Malu and her family, who are still hiding from the attackers who killed her father…

Find out more
June 10, 2024

Pray for student Meryem who’s secret faith was discovered by her parents, and is now being forced to stay at home…

Find out more
June 3, 2024

Please pray for Christians living in a region in Niger under jihadist control that is forcing believers to pay a tax or leave the area.

Find out more
June 3, 2024

Pray for Christians dealing with conflict, violence and extremism in Sudan…

Find out more
June 3, 2024

Eight people have been killed and around 160 people, mostly Christians, have been kidnapped after Islamic militants attacked a village in Nigeria.

Find out more
May 28, 2024

Thank God that 686 kidnapped women, men and children have been rescued in a joint effort by Cameroonian and Nigerian armed forces.

Find out more
May 20, 2024

Pray for Christian North Koreans who have been forced to return from China are being punished and imprisoned in horrific labour camps…

Find out more
May 20, 2024

Hari has been thrown out of his home, his church has been closed and he’s been arrested under false accusations – but nothing will stop him from following Jesus.

Find out more
May 13, 2024

“Christians are targeted all over India. There is not a single state in India that is safe for Christians. Pastors and believers are attacked, threatened and arrested on false charges, while churches and Christian institutions are attacked or forced to close down.”

Find out more
May 13, 2024

Reports say that the military council has burned down more than 400 houses, including five Christian churches, in a village in the Sagaing Region…

Find out more
btn-scroll