Written by Dr. Mary Mikhael*
Dear friends and partners,
Greetings to you all in the precious Name of Jesus, the Prince of Peace!
It is now more then a week since I came back from Syria.
During the week of visiting with my 92-year-old mother, I had the privilege of attending the Saturday worship service of our Presbyterian displaced who are in the area of Mashta. The service was lead by the Rev. Moufeed Karajili, the pastor of Homs. It was held in a Catholic monastery in the area. Attended by about thirty people and some children. Several women gathered around me after the service to ask questions and also to welcome me. A woman from Aleppo, another from Homs, and another from Idleb, and others from other area of Syria all who have been displaced now for more than three years. Pleasure and sadness were mixed in my heart. Of course Presbyterians are one family no matter where they came from. Yet those women are being there not by choice, as each one has her own story of loss. One woman I visited three years ago when she was recently displaced from Homs. I asked her, when do you plan to go back to Homs as many others who did.
She sighed and said, "our home is totally destroyed, it will take time to rebuild." She continued to say, "My mother and I have now moved five times from place to place and by the end of the month the owner of where we are now plan to increase the rent so we have to move again."
I have not yet recovered from rethinking the painful stories I heard from those women, I came back from the office today to get the shock of my life hearing of the tragic explosions and watching the horrifying scenes of blood and destruction in Tartous, the costal city in Syria and in Jably in the suburb of Latakea. Both cities have been so far the safest cities for the last five years, cities that have received so many of those who ran away from extreme violence where they originally lived.
Tartous has been described as the haven for the displaced from so many parts of Syria, life and work were normal and the city was the welcoming place for those who could restart their lives again and do their jobs, children go to schools and sit for exams and hope for the best.
This morning changed all. In the transportation station of the city a suicide bomber exploded himself inside, and by the entrance of the station a car explosion, and in a residential street opposite the entrance another suicide bomber, all simultaneously took place killing 45 on the spot and wounding 55 seriously, creating immense destruction in the area and burning many cars.
In the city of Jably, same time four explosions took place one in the transportation station, two by the Electricity station, and a suicide bomberin the emergency entrance of the hospital where the wounded were brought. killing the nurses, and those helping and many others in the hospital. OFFICIAL NUMBER OF THE KILLED IS 148, THE WOUDED ARE MANY MORE.
All those who were killed and wounded were civilians mostly women and children going to school. How can human being be so criminal??? What kind of hearts those have if at all? Beside that, one wonders of the fact that there are countries that support and finance and train those heartless persons and groups that make killing a trade, often in the name of god !!!
Dear friends please cry with us to God who, "in every part of the wide world He makes war seas to the end of the earth"(Ps.46:9), and, "scatterthe people who delight in war",(Ps. 68:30).
The people in Syria have lost hope that peace may ever come and the human tragedy will come to an end. They keep asking, for how long O God? Why are you silent and not listen to our cries?
Surely we are not allowed to loose hope that God will have compassion and will stand with those who suffer. Our God knows suffering even to the cross, but the Resurrection is surely the hope we look for. O God give us faith so not to weaken but to live in hope.
We appeal for your continuous prayers, and your advocacy for peace, dear friends, because God answers prayers for the sake of His crucified but Risen son JESUS.
To God be the glory.
In Christ. Mary Mikhael
*Dr. Mikhael is a staffperson for the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon, the immediate past president of the Near East School of Theology, and a former member of the Common Global Ministries Board of Directors.
The United Church of Christ and Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) continue to offer support for the work of many partners in the region to provide humanitarian response to the needs of Syrian refugees. Please consider supporting the work of Global Ministries' partners' relief efforts in and around Syria. You can do that through One Great Hour of Sharing (UCC), the Week of Compassion (Disciples), or through Global Ministries directly.