An Emergency Appeal for the Presbyterian Churches in Northeast Syria
Over the past few weeks, you have seen the troubling news coming from Syria, as Turkey has made assaults against the Kurdish forces in the area even as U.S. troops hastily withdraw. Caught in the swath of this conflict are 3 of the 18 Presbyterian congregations in Syria which are a part of the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon. For the past 8 years, and with your help, The Outreach Foundation has not only supported these congregations but has made 7 visits there during the war. The last visit was just this past February and included stops in these 3 congregations in northeast Syria: Qamishli, Hasakeh, and Malkieh.
We made many friends in these places like Flora Shammas, and her parents, Nabil, and Irina, who are active at the Qamishli Church---pastored by Rev. Firas Farah.
We have received regular updates on the recent emergency situation from the Rev. Joseph Kassab, the Synod’s General Secretary:
In a call with our pastor in Qamishli, Rev. Firas Farah, he reports that schools are still closed …and the prices of daily goods in the city have doubled, adding to the suffering of the people. Many Christians who have their shops located in Kurdish areas, stopped going to their work. Nevertheless, our two pastors in the area, Rev. Firas and Preacher Matilde Sabbagh [Hasakeh Church] continue to visit with the congregations and comfort them with prayers and encouragement… They conveyed to me the fears and worries of the 40,000 – 50,000 Christians in the area. Like all Christians in Syria, the Christians of the northeast are not armed and have no political ambition other than their longing for a peaceful, united Syria for all its citizens.
The Outreach Foundation is mounting an emergency appeal to assist the churches and their families who are now heading into a financial crisis, as well as a humanitarian one: the price of meat has risen to $10/kilo (an average salary is $80/month); heating fuel is becoming scarce, and, therefore, expensive, as cold weather sets in; city water service in Hasakeh has stopped after the source spring was bombed, requiring the purchase of bottled water; 300,000 Syrians have been displaced from surrounding villages and will need to be cared for in the cities.
How you can help:
As individuals: make a gift to the Emergency Appeal for Northeast Syria, share this blog with friends and bring this Appeal to the attention of your pastor and mission committee.
As churches: make a modest gift now from reserve or contingency funds on hand and consider a church-wide offering in the weeks ahead.
A generous donor has pledged to match the first $20,000 we receive up to November 17!
The Outreach Foundation gives thanks to God that you are on this journey with us alongside the faithful, witnessing Church in Syria. Peace has been restored in many places, yet the needs of families and for the Church’s ministries continue, especially now in the northeast. Checks can be sent to our office at the address below, designated to our Syria Appeal, or by making an online gift.
A closing word from Rev. Joseph Kassab:
We appeal to you to continue praying for all the people in the northeast and lift our congregations and their pastors to the Almighty, so they experience the peace that Jesus gives in such troubled times.
EMERGENCY SYRIA APPEAL UPDATE (AS OF 10-30-19)
As reported to us by Rev. Joseph Kassab, General Secretary of the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon:
In Lebanon (Part of the Synod and critical to relief efforts in Syria):
The roads are still blocked. Many people are getting frustrated because they cannot go to work or school or to the bank. This is the 15th day of demonstrations. Prices have increased between 20% to 30%. Banks are worried that once they open, people will withdraw their dollars from the market, which will seriously threaten the Lebanese pound.
In Northeast Syria:
Peace is prevailing for the time being. The Syrian government and Army have not reached the area where our congregations (in Qamishli, Hasakeh, and Malkieh) are located. The airport has not reopened. There is no school and basic food prices have tripled. We did manage to find a way to provide $12,000 to one of the churches to support 120 families right now. Also, Kurds…and some Assyrians were obliged to leave their homes and move to Hasakeh to take refuge in the city.
Because of your rapid response, we will soon wire $30,000 to support and encourage our Presbyterian family in northeast Syria, but additional funds will be needed.
Please give to The Outreach Foundation Emergency Syria Appeal.