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Damascus Pastor: 40 Percent of Congregation Has Fled the Country

  • Religion Today
    Religious persecution, missions, Christianity around the world
  • 2013 Sep 18
  • Comments

A pastor from Damascus paints a sad picture of the situation in the Syrian capital, Charisma News reports. "The situation is very grim," Pastor Edward says. "There is deep sadness and much stress and anxiety." According to the pastor, approximately 40 percent of the members of his church have left the country since the civil war in Syria started two and a half years ago. It's the reality churches in Syria now face; people that have financial means and contacts abroad often leave the war-torn country. Edward knows that in his church, some members still are waiting for the opportunity to leave Syria. "They are still trying to find a place to go," he says. However, "we see new people coming to church. Many of the families that we visit and help with a monthly food supply come to our services now." Although there is no fighting going on in the central area of Damascus, it is a daily reality in several suburbs. "It seems that there is no end in sight," Edward says. "Christians are like all other people -- concerned for their safety and the future of their children." In a way, life goes on for many people in Damascus. People who work in the public sector still go to work, "but their income is worth less and less as the Syrian pound lost 75 percent of its value, which has caused huge inflation," Edward says. "After two and a half years, most people are suffering economically and are traumatized emotionally." But the pastor also mentions a brighter side: "Church people are closer to the Lord and to each other. The relief work through our church is still going on. It is becoming more difficult because of the higher risk and the unavailability of materials. In some cases it takes us a couple of weeks to get some of the items for the food packages. But thank God we have committed people who are still doing the job, and the relief package is still one of the very few good things that many displaced families receive. The visiting teams are still doing their wonderful work in personally touching the pain of many families and offering some physical and emotional support. ... Thank you so much for your prayers and concern; we as the church in Syria appreciate your help and support."