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NESSL update on Syrian refugee response

Written by the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon
May 21, 2014

Dear Friends, Greetings in the Name of Christ our Lord.

I write to share the news of our ministry with the Syrian displaced.  Unfortunately every day the loss of life for many is the talk of the town, the drastic destruction of homes create more people become refugees, and displaced. Thus, the church involvement  in the relief work gets deeper every day and the need increases. [I have] just been told that one of our church elders in Kharaba, in the south, had his house burned by the rebels. Kharaba is a Christian village where, early after the violence began, our church was occupied by a Muslim displaced from a nearby village....  The stories of [such] crimes make one lose hope that the sun will shine again.


No doubt you have heard that a special plan was worked out to free the old part of the city of Homs where for almost two years the people there where denied the basic needs for life, and lived under continual battles between the Syrian Army and the rebels who prevented entry to that area. Indeed the destruction is immense, and sadly many have lost their lives, and all have lived under oppression and fear. One reality is clear in the circumstances, which is, that reconciliation and political agreement are possible. Indeed our prayer is that such agreement will be achieved in other areas providing some hope to the many hopeless people.

It indeed breaks the heart to see that people go back to the ruined  city and see the destruction of their homes and everything they worked for has turned into rubble. Some have not been able to recognize their homes in the middle of ruins. Ironically, while all were stunned, all with tears seemed happy to be able to get back to their beloved city.

The National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon (NESSL) pastors in Syria are working hard to reach out to as many as possible providing relief material, and spiritual uplifting. Some of our pastors in Beirut have gone to Latakea and Homs to visit with our church people and find out possibilities as to when rebuilding/renovation of our Homs Church can begin. They found that parts of our property there have been used as place for studying Islamic principles. The church Bible is being shut in the middle and left there symbolically, other writings on the standing walls provocative verbs. One is stunned of the fanatic language used now where the Syrian people have never been used to hear.

On the other hand the relief program continues reaching out to the displaced with food, hygiene, and other relief needed to as many as they are able to. 

The church in Latakea had an added pain to deal with, as the Armenians were forced to run away from Kasab.   The church opened its doors to host as many as was possible, and provided a place for the Kasab  pastor where he could stay and take care of his people. The Armenian community resided in Kasab for decades, ever since their first ordeal by the Turks. Now they are made to live such ordeal all over again. However, it seems that Kasab has recently been returned by the Syrian Army which means that people may be able to go back and see what happened to their homes.

Despite our hope that what happened to end the Homs tragedy will become a pattern for other areas, Aleppo is now becoming the great worry. Three million people in Aleppo have been denied access to water for days. Just now it is said that water has bee returned. Praise be to God. Yet the destruction of it's cultural and historical treasures make all cry with deep pain.

Let me now express deep gratitude to all our friends and partners for having stood with the church in its struggle trying to provide support to as many inside Syria. Churches hosting churches, providing for food, medicine, rents, and countless other needs.

We praise God for each and every one of our Partners for their faithfulness. We also deeply grateful to all the  individuals  and churches and institutions of the NESSL who also felt responsible.

Funds received since the beginning of NESSL involvement with the displaced [have been used for] food distribution, heating oil, cash vouchers toward rent, medicine, schooling, seminars and meetings, [and assistance] for old people and poor and needy who are not displaced.

Surely to complete the year 2014 we continue to be in great need for the support of our Partners.

We continue to cry to God for peace, compassion, and mercy.

Mary Mikhael and on behalf of the NESSL.

*Dr. Mary 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 meber 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.

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