Gabriel’s journey had taken its toll emotionally. The brave missionary had been through ten checkpoints to reach the outskirts of the Syrian capital, Damascus. Each guard who asked to see his credentials could have been an ISIS militant in disguise, capable of stealing his precious cargo, or worse, taking his life. Although he had reached his desired destination, the bombs and gunfire in the distance reminded him that his mission was far from over.
Like many missionaries in the Middle East, Gabriel had done everything in his power to provide aid and the Gospel message to the millions of Syrian refugees fleeing civil war and ISIS terrorism. But as he participated in outreaches to refugee camps near the Syrian border, a glaring mystery began to present itself. Christians were nowhere to be found. It was as if they had simply vanished.
Five years ago, before the war in Syria began, over 10% of the country’s population of 26 million identified themselves as Christ followers. That's over 2.6 million Christians. Gabriel had yet to meet a single one. “So where did they all go?" he began asking himself.
Using his contact network, Gabriel was allowed access inside Syria to explore the war-torn area. What he found was shocking. Many followers of Jesus had fled their homes for safer regions outside of Damascus. When asked why they had not attempted to leave the country with other refugees, they gave an interesting explanation. The refugee camps in bordering countries are controlled by Muslims. As a minority group, believers are surrounded by the Islamic faith, a religion dead set on preventing Christians from freely worshiping.
So although ISIS presses in on every side, many Syrian Christians decided to band together and stay. On his first trip inside, Gabriel identified an area filled with over 1,000 impoverished families, most of whom had left all they owned as they fled their homes for safety. They found shelter in small rooms, cramming up to 10 people in a single tiny living space. Food and other essential resources were scarce and some of the displaced families even resorted to searching through the trash for their next meal.
During that first fateful trip, a mission of hope was born for Gabriel. Risking the continual dangers of being in a war zone, our brave partner now makes the journey inside Syria each month to offer life-sustaining food, essential living supplies, discipleship, and the message that the church around the world remembers their plight.
Recently, Gabriel sent an update from his latest mission where he met Victor and Asil. This precious elderly couple was captured by ISIS before they could escape their city. Victor was tortured three different times in an attempt to make him recant his faith in Jesus. Asil was beaten so badly that she lost most of her mobility and was forced to remain in bed. Miraculously, the two were spared from death but were thrown out of their home without any of their possessions. With the last of their strength they made the long journey to Damascus where they hoped to find safety.
Gabriel's timely arrival provided much-needed aid in the midst of overwhelming sorrow and poverty. His visit also awakened something all but forgotten by Victor and Asil ... hope!
What Can We Do?
Resources are very limited for Gabriel and he needs our help in providing support for the families he visits each month. This is an invitation to be a part of one of the greatest rescue stories of our time.
$25 provides a week of emergency food aid for a Christian family.
$100 helps pay rent to shelter a family left homeless by persecution.
$1,000 purchases forty survival packs for families who’ve lost everything.
Would you prayerfully consider giving toward this incredible outreach? In a country that threatens to be overthrown by darkness, we can ensure the Syrian persecuted church remains a growing light.