For security reasons, certain aspects of this post cannot be specific.
As the extent of the war in Syria has greatly diminished, we have our sights on expanding our ministry into the war-torn country. As of this week the last stronghold of rebel fighters surrendered to the government and were peacefully brought out of the city via buses provided by the government. It is relatively safe for Lebanese to travel in Syria so we have started taking short term mission trips in order to find local churches and ministries to partner with in the spiritual and physical restoration of the country.
Over the last year we have developed two ministry centers in a region of Southern Syria. The first center serves as the main church building, where two services take place every week for a congregation of around 60 people. The other center is open for discipleship and training, as well as a weekly Sunday school. Most of the families that attend the church services get picked up by a van provided by Horizons International.
Since Syria is mostly desert, most people wouldn’t think of it as getting cold. However, winter months often bring below-freezing weather and prolonged periods of snow. In the past few months, Horizons has been active in providing Syrian refugees with diesel for heating, warm clothing, and necessary medical services.
Because Horizons’ location in Lebanon is only 1-2 hours from the Syrian border, we are able to undertake frequent missions trips to Syria. Since the sociopolitical climate in Syria has become less dangerous, our goal is to expand ministry efforts throughout the country. Thus, Horizons mission teams focus on preaching, counseling, leading worship, and house visitations, all the while seeking to spread the gospel by partnering with local Syrian churches. (This same team also visits other countries, such as Turkey, Egypt, and Tunisia.)
On their first Syrian missions trip, the team spent 6 days in-country in September 2017. They conducted a total of 10 house visits and built relationships with the families, sharing the Word and witnessing life-changing stories of families coming to Christ. From then on, our trips have continued to increase in fruitfulness. Syrian refugees and citizens are terrorized by war, and many families are in need of ministering. During these trips, the teams see entire families come to Christ.
Last month we had 4 people give their lives to Christ on our most recent trip. Through prayer a man was saved from a serious addiction. A child was in need of medicine for her paralysis, which is not available in Syria and can only be purchased in Lebanon. A Horizons staff member provided the medicine to support the family. One Syrian woman had lost her family during the war, and was forced to bury them herself. She was mourning and experiencing severe trauma, and the team was able to stay with her, listen to her stories, cry with her, and support her spiritually. The pain experienced by many Syrian refugees is terrible—but these people have their hearts changed, and joy and peace reestablished in their lives, after prayer, attention, love, and spiritual support.
The staff have reported that in nearly every household they enter, they encounter people struggling with trauma, cancer, serious sickness or disease, amputations, and loss of family members. The wreckage and destruction of large cities, and the use of chemical weapons, have been largely responsible for rising rates of cancer and other illnesses. Alongside the physical poverty, Syrians also suffer from a spiritual poverty. Living in fear of Islamic expansion and repressive culture, many Syrians are more open than ever to the love and power of Jesus. They respond to His healing spirit, which we bring to them by visiting them, praying for them, offering them aid, and talking to them about Christ.
In Northern Syria, Horizons has partnered with 4 local Syrian churches to aid their congregations and outreach efforts by sending them monthly humanitarian aid supplies. The city is almost completely destroyed, and the people have evacuated to surrounding villages or deserted places. In such places, many Muslims have sought refuge in the houses of Christian families, where they are cared for and visited by local church leaders, who support them spiritually and financially. We pray for these families to be filled with the Holy Spirit and enabled to minister boldly to those in need.
Tragedy in Afrin
The Syrian Civil War has torn apart a country and devastated countless families. With great sadness we report that there has been a heavy battle in the city of Afrin, a large city on the border with Turkey that is home to a majority Kurdish population in Northern Syria. Nearly 300 civilians have died, many of them children—and at least 150,000 have fled the city, forming huge refugee camps. Horizons operates a thriving ministry to Kurdish peoples at our center in Beirut, and many people on our team involved with the Kurdish church have lost family members last month, in addition to having their land occupied by the Turkish military. Horizons recently allocated $4000 in relief funds to humanitarian food, shelter, and medical efforts in Afrin, but we hope and pray that we can help even more.
To give to Horizons’ humanitarian and evangelical efforts in Syria:
- Go to Donation Form.
- Click the “Give To” menu and scroll to “MENA – Syria“
- Select “One-Time” or “Recurring”
- Fill out your information.
Thank you for your help. God blesses many souls through every gift.