We caught up with Pastor Edward in Syria, a church leader who has been responding to the ongoing crisis in the region by shining Jesus’ light, meeting people’s needs and bringing hope. His church acts as one of over 60 Centres of Hope across the Middle East. These are places where the church is reaching out, practically helping with vital aid, trauma counselling, training, offering micro loans and more.
“The church was bleeding,” says Pastor Edward, looking back at the decade of persecution, war and pandemic that continues to have a severe impact. “We lost over 60 per cent of our members; they left Syria. It was so hard. Many of them had positions of leadership in the church.”
All Syrians and Iraqis have experienced hardship in the past decade, but Christians have faced more than most. In many regions, they were targeted by Islamic militants – losing their jobs, their homes and even their lives. Many had to flee, displaced either within Syria or abroad. Those who stayed either had no choice, or decided – like Pastor Edward – to courageously remain with the church.
The church hasn’t fully recovered its numbers yet, and Covid-19 derailed many attempts to rebuild lives and communities – but Pastor Edward has seen, and is seeing, God at work. “When we look back, we will see how the hand of the Lord was moving,” he says. “Some places were hit very hard, but the result was a great expansion of the Kingdom. God opened doors for the gospel.”
At Pastor Edward’s Centre of Hope in Damascus, a lot of community connection was fostered by distributing emergency food and medicine. “The church has distributed relief items to the neediest. There were months where we gave over a thousand packages. We brought love and care to the people in need, in the name of Christ.
“We are the ambassadors of Christ in the country,” Pastor Edward says, of his church and the whole, growing network of Centres of Hope in Syria and Iraq. “We stayed with the message of light, when the embassies of the nations closed their doors. We gained a lot of respect from the whole community. People were touched by what we did as a church.
“Yes, it is tough, the experiences are painful but, at the same time, the Lord has His divine project. We are somehow instruments in His hand to complete this project.”
For God to equip and strengthen Pastor Edward and all other Open Doors partners in the region
For Centres of Hope to flourish, helping the church in the Middle East to survive, thrive and share the love of Christ
That persecuted Christians in Syria and Iraq would know God’s sustaining love and protection
and help make hope last across the Middle East.Do that here
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