Syrian Church Leaders Call For Day Of Prayer
Nicosia, 10th May 2012
Syrian church leaders have called for a day of prayer for their country and its people on Saturday, 11th May. Primarily, they are calling for prayer for peace to be restored to their country, enabling all Syrians to live in harmony within their own country.
As violent conflict continues, there are no precise figures for the number of those killed (most estimates state 70,000 or more), injured, internally displaced within Syria or who have fled to neighboring countries and beyond. It is generally reckoned that over one million have left and at least another million have been internally displaced, all from amongst a population of approximately 23 million. Atrocities have been committed by many parties.
During 2012 there was a subtle shift in how Syrian church leaders typically interpreted events. Claims of the deliberate targeting of Christians for religious reasons increased as the year progressed. Initially, most were careful to stress that there was little religious targeting. However, church leaders are increasingly fearful of the growing extremist elements within the opposition movement (e.g. Jabhat an-Nusra), and fearful that a Sunni take-over of power in Syria would lead to greater restrictions on Christians. Some fear that the Iraq scenario (involving increased levels of sectarian attack and corresponding flight of Christians) could be replicated in Syria. Church leaders have called on Christians not to leave, acknowledging that significant emigration had already occurred.
Fears within Christian communities have increased following the kidnapping of two priests (Michel Kayyal of the Armenian Catholic church and Mahar Mahfouz of the Greek Orthodox church) on 9th February and the subsequent 22nd April kidnapping of two bishops, Mar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim of the Syriac Orthodox Church [a member of the SAT-7 International Council, see SAT-7 News Release 30th April,] and Metropolitan Boulos Yaziji of the Greek Orthodox Church.
Syrian Christians request that we join with them in prayer, asking that:
Violent conflict will end, and reconciliation processes will begin
Those bereaved and traumatized will know the healing touch of Jesus
Those displaced will know the provision and protection of the Father; and those supporting them will know the wisdom and enabling of the Spirit
Those from all communities who have been kidnapped, including the two bishops and two priests kidnapped, will be released unharmed soon
Unity amongst Christian communities will be strengthened and that Christians will know the Lord's equipping as they respond to the overwhelming needs around them
All those choosing to use violent methods will know the Spirit's conviction of sin and respond to the Father's offer of forgiveness and new life in the Son.
SAT-7 is committed to supporting the people of Syria and has initiated a number of measures to create awareness of the situation and foster prayer support from believers worldwide. SAT-7 ARABIC, SAT-7 PLUS and SAT-7 PARS Channels are also adding lower third crawls and/or special program elements asking for viewers to pray for the people of Syria and for Christians there to stand strong in their faith and also for a imminent and peaceful end to this two year civil war.
The SAT-7 UK team has also put together a 12 week campaign called "Spotlight on Syria" (SOS) urging people to pray for such things as: Humanitarian aid to reach those who desperately need it and for wisdom for all of those involved in trying to negotiate peace for Syria. We have also posted a special video (with subtitles) from the program Just For You where Arab Christians pray for the country - Just for You Prayers
For more information on the situation in Syria, please visit www.wazala.org