Persecution In Syria
“How Do You Want To Die..?”
In many Syrian towns, lawlessness has become the norm. When government forces aren’t present, Muslims have been known to rob churches and kidnap, rape, or even kill Christian women. Innocent bystanders simply making trips to the store have been gunned down. Curfews have done little to make anyone feel safer or less fearful, so the Christian community simply bands together…and prays.
Hundreds of these Christian residents have watched their lives — and their very freedoms — slip away right before their eyes. Homs, a city which has been occupied by both government and rebel forces for weeks, is now alone the site of more than 1,500 violent deaths.
As the Arab Spring continues to rage throughout Syria, thousands more people have lost their lives in a movement that seeks to strip President Bashar al-Assad’s regime of its power. And as Islamic protesters clash with government forces, Christians have become hopelessly tangled in the crossfire.
The most recent fighting has left over 50 Christians dead. One victim, a young Christian boy, was killed by rebels who filmed the murder and then blamed the act on government soldiers. Another victim, a Christian man, was taken captive by rebels before being cruelly asked by them, “How do you want to die?” The man suffered a complete breakdown before he was eventually released.
But the ever-present fear of persecution and violence is only part of the problem for Syria’s Christians…
History – The State of Christian Persecution in Syria
- Many in the Christian community, which comprises approximately 6 percent of Syria’s population (1.5 million, including Christian refugees from Iraq), have fallen into severe financial hardship since the Arab Spring uprising, primarily because they are too afraid to leave their homes to go to work. Because of the violence, a shortage of basic supplies such as gas, electricity, and many supermarket products has contributed even further to the desperate situation.
- Although the Syrian church has historically enjoyed peace and religious freedom under the Assad regime, the Arab Spring has destabilized that peace, as Christians are now typically perceived as supporters of the existing government. With help from fellow Muslims in Saudi Arabia, many Islamic fundamentalists are taking advantage of the opportunity to pursue their agenda in Syria, which has significantly increased the persecution of Christians.
- Faced with the threat of a full scale civil war and intervention by the international community — factors which may bring about even greater persecution — many Christians are preparing to leave Syria altogether. This possibility could create a crisis similar to the exodus in Iraq, where thousands of Christians have fled intense persecution for safer regions, leaving the Iraqi church practically nonexistent.
- National security. Pray that the situation will stabilize in Syria, and that Christians will once again experience religious freedom in their homeland.
- Safety and provisions. Pray for the safety and security of Christians who remain in Syria. Pray also that the Lord will meet their material needs during this time of strife, fear, and persecution.
- Church growth. Pray that local churches in Syria will grow under strong, godly leadership, and that Bibles, Christian literature, and other necessary resources would be provided for them.
- Muslim outreach. Despite rampant fear and uncertainty, many Syrian Christians are ministering to Muslims in need. Many of these Muslims, particularly those of the younger generation who struggle with long-term unemployment, have become disillusioned and frustrated. Pray that God will touch the hearts of all those who hear the Gospel message and that Syrian Christians will continue to reach out to them despite the risks of persecution.
Make Your Voice Heard
CFI encourages you to contact appropriate representatives to express your concern about the crisis of persecution in Syria:
- United States Congress:
- Imad Moustapha, Ambassador of Syria to the United States:
Embassy of Syria
2215 Wyoming Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20008
- Hillary Rodham Clinton, U.S. Secretary of State:
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520
Questions for Further Study
- Like American Christians, Syrian Christians have historically been able to worship without fear of persecution; however, in light of the Arab Spring, it is now unclear that they may be able to enjoy those freedoms ever again. Do you believe that the American church is also at risk of persecution today? Why or why not? What might be some of the reasons for persecution in America?
- What do you believe contributes to the lack of discussion about persecution in the church today?
“Indeed, all who desire to live a godly live in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” 2 Timothy 3:12