When we met Dured, his face was somber. He was missing teeth and his body looked like a giant scar. In a rundown apartment, he shared his terrifying story.
Like many Syrians, Dured was caught in the middle of a violent civil war. He didn’t want to fight for ISIS, but also didn’t want to join forces with President Assad. But neutrality simply wasn’t an option. Eventually, he was kidnapped and forced to pledge allegiance to Assad. He disappeared for weeks. His wife could only assume he was dead.
“I refused to fight for President Bashar Assad! I was tortured for 15 hours a day for a month.”
Dured’s captors were ruthless. They hooked him up to car batteries, beat him senseless, and even pulled out his teeth. At one point, they nearly drowned him. It could all have ended with one sentence out of Dured’s mouth – “Bashar Assad is God.”
Amazingly, he lived to tell his story. Today, Dured is relatively safe in the refugee camp of a neighboring country. While he has yet to receive Christ, the team was able to share the Gospel with him and hear about his experience.
Unfortunately, Dured’s story is a common one. According to our national leaders, over one million Syrians are now dead. 12.5 million still living within it’s borders are in need of humanitarian assistance. Half of the country is now homeless. It’s hard to imagine how God could be at work in such a terrible situation. The Alawites and the Sunnis look to be at war for a long time.
But God hasn’t forgotten the Syrians.
While on the ground, somewhere in the Middle East, our team had the chance to meet a beautiful couple living in a refugee home. They escaped Syria around the same time and despite the enormous pain they were dealing with, they fell in love during their stay in the camp. What makes this so remarkable is that the husband is a Sunni while his wife is an Alawite.
Their story could only happen after they received Christ in the refugee camp. They love Jesus and His family above their own. As Omar and Layla shared their story, we were introduced to their beautiful daughter. Omar said his proudest moment in life was writing “Christian” on his daughter’s passport.
In one of the greatest humanitarian crises of the past decade, God is still glorifying Himself. He is providing healing and restoration in the midst of tragedy. The situation in Syria is yet another reminder that we live in a world shattered by sin and spiritual oppression. But we serve the one who overcomes the grave – the one who makes all things new. As part of his Kingdom, he invites us to be a part of his restoring work.