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Three ways to help persecuted Christians in Syria

Dr. Jim Denison is a cultural apologist who helps people respond biblically and redemptively to the vital issues of our day. He is also the co-founder and Chief Vision Officer of the Denison Forum, a Dallas-based nonprofit that comments on current issues through a biblical lens.

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A church in the old city of Homs damaged in bombings by the militia of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during the Syrian Civil War, February 29, 2012 (Credit: FreedomHouse via Flickr)

Syria continues to make headlines as its civil war escalates. The United Nations estimated in mid-February that 70,000 people had been killed in this conflict, now in its third year.  Last Friday and Saturday, strikes attributed to Israel reportedly targeted a research center near Damascus involved in creating chemical weapons, as well as an airport and Iranian-made ground-to-ground missiles bound for Hezbollah.

In the midst of this physical war, Syrian Christians are facing something much darker—a spiritual war.  Christians in Syria have historically experienced a higher degree of freedom than in most other Middle Eastern countries.  Many of them have refused to denounce the Assad regime, fearing that extremists would replace the government and severely persecute religious minorities.  As a result, many of the rebels consider Christians to be loyal to Assad.

In addition, Christians populate a region of Syria that is strategic to the war.  Whoever controls their land can split the nation in two and control the conflict.  Here’s the bottom line: Believers in Syria now face the possibility of population transfers, ethnic cleansing, and genocide.

There are three ways we can help them.

First, we can join them tomorrow in a special day of prayer and fasting. 

Coordinators of “The Day of Prayer for Syria” have issued this letter: “On Saturday, May 11, Christians from different denominations . . . are joining together in prayer and fasting to plead before the Lord for His mercy on Syria and an end to the violence.  Due to the dangers of traveling in combat zones, Christians will be limited to local meetings planned all across Syria during this day.  These groups will be meeting in homes, arenas and churches.  Christians across Syria have asked that you join them in prayer on May 11.  Thank you for standing in the gap on behalf of the Syrian people and reflecting the love of Christ.

Second, we can make time during Sunday worship services to pray for our persecuted sisters and brothers in Syria.  (For specific prayer requests, go here.) 

And third, we can join “8thirty8,” a global prayer initiative for the persecuted church.

My dear friend Tom Doyle, a missionary to the Middle East, has created this network.  Those of us who have joined them set an alarm each day for 8:38 PM as a reminder to pray for believers in prison, persecution, and danger.  You can like their Facebook page for updates and RSVP with your commitment to the Day of Prayer for Syria.

When Peter was imprisoned by Herod, “the church was earnestly praying to God for him” (Acts 12:5).  As a result, he was miraculously released and continued his global ministry.  Let’s intercede together for those in our faith family who need a similar miracle from God today.