Saturday, October 20
In Syria, Christians enjoy peace and freedom of worship, and participate in the official and civil life of the country, perhaps more so than any other place in the Middle East. Religion - for both Christian and Muslim - is a personal conviction and is treated with mutual respect.
One example of this atmosphere of religious openness is that many of the 15,000 Soviet military advisers and their families who lived in Syria from the 1960s through the 1990s bought tens of thousands of Russian Bibles from the Bible Society in Damascus, one of the most active in the Middle East. These advisers then transferred the Bibles into what was the Soviet Union, which God might have prepared as good soil for the seeds of the Word.
In recent years, thousands of Iranian tourists each week purchase Persian Bibles in Syria, so many that the Bible Society in Damascus has not been able to keep up with requests for them. This is another place where God might be preparing the soil.
- Rev. Adeeb Awad, pastor, National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon
Editor's note: At the time of publication, thousands of Syrians continue weekly anti-government protests. Most Syrian church leaders have rejected protestors' demands for President Bashar al-Assad to resign. However, Christians have endorsed democratic reforms and measures that would end corruption. Syrian church leaders have also been critical of the U.S. government's role, which they perceive as negative and unhelpful. Because Syria has been the country most favorable to Christian presence and witness in the Middle East, many Christians throughout the region have expressed great concern for the welfare of Christians if a regime change takes place in Syria. As of early 2011, more than half a million Iraqi Christians (along with a greater number of Iraqi Muslims) had found refuge in Syria following the American-led invasion of 2003 and ensuing violence in Iraq.
Let us join in prayer for:
National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon: Rev. George Murad, moderator, Rev. Fadi Dagher, general secretary * The Armenian Orthodox Church * The Orthodox Apostolic Church of Antioch and All the East (Greek Orthodox Patriarchate) * The Syrian Orthodox Church * Jinishian Memorial Program: Ani Cholakian, director
Let us pray
Dear Lord, we believe we must be open to see your work in the world, not through our eyes but through yours. Open our eyes that we might see the peoples of the Middle East as Jesus would, and grant the churches in the Middle East his prophetic voice. Amen.