Syrians who flee ‘desperate to hear about Jesus’
    June 28 2013 by Eden Nelson, IMB

    MIDDLE EAST – Zulema* left horrors behind when she fled from Syria two years ago, with family members left behind to languish in prison.

    But she ran straight into the arms of people she says God put in her path.
    “I started to hear from them, the most magnificent thing I’ve heard in my whole life: How to know God,” Zulema said. “As I slept this night I heard a voice telling me, ‘I sent you those people so you will get to know God more.’”
    As the news shares horrific accounts of the war in Syria and many people have left their homes to escape the tragedy, an untold story remains. The tragedy has opened doors for the Gospel to be shared in ways that have never been seen, according to Christian workers in the region. Syrians who have never heard the gospel before are finding Christians waiting to tell them in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.
    “It is awesome to be on the edge of what God is doing,” said Catherine Steel*, a Christian worker in the Middle East.
    Women now meet weekly to hear stories of the Bible, stories completely new to them. They are having visions, reading the Word and coming to Christ, Steel said. “For so long, only 1 percent of Muslim women were turning to Christ.”
    A movement of this kind is “unheard of,” she said.
    Families are encountering Christ and turning to him, while Syrian Christians who have fled the war are experiencing God’s mercy in ways they have never seen.

    Arabic-language Bibles and Christian books occupy a place of honor on the bookshelf of an influential Muslim community leader among Syrian refugees.

    Salman* and Basimah* are one such Christian couple. They fled after Salman’s brothers were killed and his life was in danger.
    Eight years after the couple accepted Christ, “the war started in Syria, then we came to Lebanon and again the door opened for us to have fellowship and be close to Jesus,” Basimah said. “[The church] embraced us as a family as one of them, and they showed us true love and acceptance.
    “My faith was renewed and I started to know more and have a deeper knowledge about the Bible and my Savior,” she said. “Our only refuge is the Lord. He is the one who is helping us to adapt with this new situation and the difficult times that we are facing.”
    Christian workers are hearing stories and watching a movement they say is miraculous.
    “Many are gathering together, sometimes more than once a week, to study the scripture together and fellowship,” said Ruth James*, a Christian worker in the region.
    Zulema is one of those who met Christ this way. After she fled Syria and was embraced by Christians, she began to read the Bible and ask questions. Two months later, she decided to follow Christ.
    “The word of God is becoming very close to my heart as I read the Bible,” She said. “I am memorizing what’s in there and it is becoming part of me. I was drowning in a deep sea and someone came and rescued me. My hope is that many would experience that rescue as I did.”
    James said many are experiencing just that.
    “They are so cut off from the outside, and many feel they have been completely abandoned by the world and may be wondering if they have been abandoned by God as well,” James said. “In that moment, in that place of desperation when the things they have been taught about God are being eroded by the reality of the suffering that they have endured at the hands of their ‘brothers’ in Syria as well as in their host countries, they are desperate to hear about Jesus.”
    Syria was once a country where Jesus was not openly spoken about and faith questions were not brought to the light. Now everything has changed, James said.
    Steel looks upon the situation in Syria and sees it as the story of God’s redemption in history – brokenness to hope. “We know what caused it and we know what can fix it. And we have a hope,” she said. “No matter how bad and how complicated things get, we have hope.”
    She asked for Christians around the world to advocate for the Syrian people, knowing there is more to the story.  “Please pray, ‘God, Syria’s broken, come make it right — whatever it takes, that they may see your gospel,” she said.
    *Names changed for security reasons
    (EDITOR’S NOTE – Eden Nelson is a writer for the International Mission Board based in the Middle East.)
    6/28/2013 2:56:33 PM by Eden Nelson, IMB | with 0 comments
    Filed under: hope, Syria

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