Syrian refugees pass 3 million mark
LONDON (BP) -- The Syrian crisis reached a new milestone as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees counted more than 3 million officially registered refugees driven out by the conflict tearing the Middle Eastern country apart.
"We have a God-given moment in history," Don Alan,* a Christian worker in the Middle East, said. "Will we be cowards and shrink back, or will we play the role that God is calling us to? I pray that you [the church] will stand with us as we respond to this window of opportunity that we have been privileged to be a part of."
The Syrian crisis began in the spring of 2011 with protests against the government that escalated into a civil war. Since then, countries surrounding Syria -- Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Turkey and Egypt -- have been flooded with Syrian refugees seeking asylum.
In the last four years, the conflict has displaced more than 6.5 million people within Syria and killed more than 150,000.
As the numbers continue to rise, workers seek to keep their focus on the individual people around them, sharing the Gospel with refugees as they meet their physical needs.
"Jesus said that He came to seek the lost, bringing healing to the hurting," Alan said. "As we continue to reach out to refugees, our desire continues to be to reach out [to] one person at a time and make a difference in their life."
However, despite efforts to focus on the individual and daily victories, the incredible scope of this conflict can sometimes seem daunting, Alan says.
"The length of the fighting and the number of refugees threatens to overwhelm not just aid agencies, but may also be discouraging us [the church] from staying involved," Alan said.
Workers urge the church to stand alongside them on behalf of the Syrians, remembering that God has not left Syria. "From events on the ground, we are reminded daily that God is at work -- don't lose hope," Alan said.
As refugees continue to flee their homes, solidarity and action from the church is invaluable. The question for each believer, Alan says, is not whether they should help but how God is calling them to help.
"God reminds us often in His Word to endure, and not lose faith," he said. "As you continue to consider what part you will play, know that God is at work and that your praying, giving and even being willing to go is part of God's plan in reaching the Syrians."
-- Ask God to give Christian workers perseverance and wisdom in reaching out to the Syrian refugees around them.
-- Ask God to provide workers with the resources to meet Syrian refugees' physical needs, and open doors to share the Gospel with them.
-- Pray many refugees will find their refuge and hope in Jesus.
-- For more related stories, videos, photos and information on ways to help, go to s.imb.org/4syria.
-- Write to SyriaInfo@pobox.org to find out about short-term and long-term opportunities to work among Syrians.
*Name changed. Brian Andrews is a writer for Baptist Press's London Bureau.