Dr. John E. Johnson

Dr. John E. Johnson

A Perspective on Syria

Several years ago, a few of us traveled in the early
morning from Damascus to Maaloula. Nestled in the mountainside, it is an
ancient Christian village where an ancient Christian church still exists. The
town is one of the last places where Aramaic is still spoken. When early church
fathers gathered to recognize the canon of Scripture, Maaloula sent one of its
early pastors to represent believers in Syria.

When we arrived, I heard singing, some of the most
beautiful I have ever heard on earth. It turned out to be a contingent of UN
Peacekeepers from Lebanon. They were there on holiday, and they sang Holy,
Holy, Holy. All of which explains why my heart broke when I heard this week
that a battle rages in this picturesque town between militants linked to
Al-Nusra and the Syrian government. Who knows if the church, that has survived
nearly 1900 years, will survive the destruction currently underway in Syria.

While governments determine their response to WMD’s and
calculate their next geopolitical moves, the church must also plan hers. We
must stand with the church. We must not forget our brothers and sisters. Some of
the most gracious Christians I have met on earth are in this part of the world.
Since Syria’s independence, there have been twenty different governments and
eleven presidents. The small percentage of Christians living here are
surrounded by a large Sunni majority. The Baath party has ruled with an iron
fist for over 50 years, led by Syria’s Alawite minority (an offshoot of Shiite
Muslim).  The Mukhabarat, the secret
police have created an environment of fear. Men with imagination and creativity
and desire for freedom have paid a huge price. And in all of this, Christians
have persevered.

And now this tragic civil war, that may continue for
years. Today, I can’t help but wonder how churches in the various towns I have
visited are coping. What I do know is that they need our daily prayers. Here
are some ways to pray–

1-pray that God will raise up godly men and women who
will bring hope and direction. Someone must rise up

2-pray for the church to
actually thrive and reach a population that may now be most open to the gospel

3-pray for believers in Lebanon who are doing amazing relief work, and for the
churches reaching out to homeless Syrians

4-pray for world leaders to be driven
by compassion and justice, and especially wisdom

5-pray against the darkness
that has taken hold

6-pray that God will unleash His will, His love and
compassion and power in places like Damascus and Sweda and Aleppo, and His
wrath wherever there is the darkness

And send what God sets on your heart to send


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