By Mark Ellis
As the Syrian civil war continues after a failed cease-fire, many Muslims are encountering God, including a mother with confounding dreams that left her in a state of anticipation.
“The woman dreamt repeatedly of a man who told her that three people would come and bring her good news,” according to a ministry director for Christian Aid Mission (CAM).
“She continued to have this dream for six days in a row,” the director told CAM. “On the seventh day, one of our teams was doing home visits and decided to visit a new house.”
The three men approached her door, not knowing that God had already prepared the way. The woman’s eyes widened when she opened to see the three, and quickly ushered them inside.
“When they opened their Bible, she instantly fell to her knees,” the director told CAM.
When her husband and children walked in, she could not contain herself. “These are the people that the man in my dream told me to meet!” she told them excitedly.
The followers of Jesus spoke to her about His saving death on the cross and resurrection from the dead. Then they prayed with the family.
“They all put their faith in Him,” the ministry leader recounted. The entire household was saved!
“Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved – you and your household.” Acts 16:30-31
“We have continued to disciple them since then, and they are like sponges – eager to learn and know everything they can,” the ministry director said.
There are many new believers in Syria. “Since the beginning of the year, native ministry workers have baptized more than 230 people,” the director said. “On one occasion alone, 53 people were baptized, with each one telling how they came to believe in Christ.”
The local gospel workers have been effective in reaching their people, in ways that would be difficult for outsiders. “I totally believe that we should continue supporting the local church to go forward,” he noted.
Carrying out baptisms represents a security challenge in a country where Islamist groups are fighting for hegemony. Often, ministry workers only tell participants that they will be attending a meeting, without disclosing that baptisms are planned.
“This is one strategy we have to prevent word from getting around about the baptism and putting people’s lives in danger,” the director told CAM. “Not long ago I had prepared another day of baptism, but some of the new believers did not show up. When we went to look for them in their homes, we found they had been killed. This is why it is best not to announce baptisms.”
In the five years since the civil war began in Syria, it is estimated that 400,000 to 500,000 people have been killed, about half of them innocent civilians.
The ministry director said he no longer recognizes places he once knew. “Destruction of every kind could be seen but without knowing which political or religious group was responsible,” he said. “It’s a massive humanitarian crisis, and finding basic necessities like water, gas, food, or medicine can be an ordeal.
“Additionally, as more people come to Christ, we have more people that need to be hidden and moved to safe zones because of the danger to their lives.”
Russia has been accused of war crimes for backing the Syrian air strikes on Aleppo, which included “bunker-busters” that destroyed underground shelters, the water supply, and schools and playgrounds.
Syrians who flee the country are also facing troubles. They are suffering mistreatment at the hands of police and others in Lebanon, Turkey and other countries where they are settling, he said.
“People are upset, and they aren’t taking the time to differentiate between refugees and Muslim extremists,” he said.
In Syria, the vast needs and dreadful conditions challenge the faith and endurance of Christian workers, whose only hope is to maintain their focus on Jesus.
“They are also completely filled with joy; it’s the only thing right now that makes them get back on their feet and keep going,” the ministry leader said. “There is so much to be done that they are completely exhausted and continuously near burn-out by everything that is happening around them in their war-torn country. Our local missionaries in Syria are in desperate need of support — both emotional and financial.”
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For more about Christian Aid Mission’s work in Syria, go here