Syria Appeal - January 2018
ALEPPO: TIDINGS OF COMFORT AND JOY?
Now to the Lord sing praises, all you within this place,
And with true love and brotherhood each other now embrace;
This holy tide of Christmas all other doth deface.
O tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy.
Aleppo is one of the oldest continuously inhabited places on earth; many historians believe that the site has been lived in for more than 8,000 years. But over the past five years, our nightly news stunned us with the images of this ancient city turned to rubble due to a bloody war. In Aleppo alone, over 5,100 civilians were killed in 2016. In all of Syria, over 470,000 civilians have been killed during the five-year span of the conflict – from March 2011 to February 2016.
Can there be “tidings of comfort and joy” in this place of destruction and suffering? Yes…because the Church is there, and the Light of Christ shines through the work and witness of the Presbyterian Church which your gifts, through our Syria Appeal, have supported. Recently Rev. Ibrahim Nseir and his congregation, using a $12,000 gift from this Appeal, made a distribution of much needed food to fellow Syrians – all of them Muslim – who had been displaced and were living in misery on the outskirts of the city in an old industrial area called Jibreen.
And with true love and brotherhood each other now embrace
The Jibreen “shelter” is an old cotton mill composed of cement warehouses open to cold air elements. The living conditions are very poor with no insulation, and many families sleep in the open air. Temperatures approach near freezing in the winter. Living conditions in the makeshift camp are very basic and cramped. Rain pours through leaky roofs and broken windows; families huddle together inside, burning trash to stay warm and constructing temporary structures using mattresses or other materials available. Food aid and water are provided on a limited basis by several international aid agencies. A Russian field hospital is providing emergency medical care to families there, although the assistance does not meet the needs of the thousands of families that are transitioning through this location.
The food distribution began with members of the church going to Jibreen to prioritize the neediest: widows, single parent families and university students who have no family nearby. They were given a voucher and then shortly thereafter, brought across town to the church where the distribution could be made without causing chaos.
Well beyond the food itself, Rev. Ibrahim and his team sought to demonstrate Christ’s love and compassion within the “shelter” of their church. “We wanted them to feel the presence of God through the Church and through us,” he said. He asked me to convey this message to you, our donors: “We really thank God for you. You were the means, in God’s hands, to decrease the pain and suffering of these people.”
For these 500 families, these acts of love were, truly, tidings of comfort and joy. May this New Year bring them peace for which they have long awaited and for which we have ceaselessly prayed.
Now to the Lord sing praises, all you within this place!
Marilyn Borst, Associate Director for Partnership Development
Your gifts, which support both families IN the churches and the ministries OF the churches, may be mailed to our office at the address below. Or you may make an online gift through our website: www.theoutreachfoundation.org. Please designate your gift for the “Syria Appeal.”
Read more about the Syria Appeal HERE.