Published: 00:01 GMT Daylight Time - Thursday 14 April 2011
Lent Prayer - Syria
Country/Region: Middle East and North Africa, Syria
It is easier to be a Christian in Syria than anywhere else in the Arab world. The Muslim majority shows respect, even warmth, to the Christian minority, who make up some 10% of the population. Some of the churches have a long history stretching back to the first Christian centuries, and Syria has welcomed many Christian refugees from other countries, most recently from Iraq. The government allows Christians a good measure of freedom to practise their faith, and many hold influential positions in the professions and in politics. Church buildings are given free electricity, like mosques.
But in their concern to maintain political stability the authorities also subject the country’s religious groups to close surveillance, and activities that are thought to threaten public order are prohibited. In practice this means that Christian evangelism among Muslims, whilst not illegal as such, is strongly discouraged, and some missionaries have been denied permission to renew their visas. Conversion from Islam to Christianity is forbidden by law. A Syrian Christian leader says, “There is freedom to practise your religion, but not yet to change it. You are what you are born into.”
Christian groups that try to share the Gospel run the risk of reprisals. In 2010 the government ordered the closure of ten Protestant churches, although by January 2011 three of them had re-opened. Many Syrian Christians believe that the authorities are trying to restrict Christian activities that they consider extreme, specifically evangelism. Various church camps were also cancelled, and some foreigners serving Protestant churches were told that their visas would not be renewed.
Give thanks for the freedoms enjoyed by Christians in Syria, and for the country’s generous welcome to those fleeing persecution in other countries. Pray that these liberties will be maintained, and that Christians in positions of prominence will be good witnesses for Christ. Pray that the close monitoring of Christian worship and other activities will be relaxed, and especially that Christians will be given the freedom to share their faith with their Muslim neighbours and that Muslims who choose to become Christians will be allowed to do so. Ask the Lord to protect all Christian converts in Syria.
Barnabas Aid projects in Syria include:
This article is taken from
“Praying for the Persecuted Church in Lent 2011” - order your FREE copy here.