Posts tagged Syria Appeal
Syria Appeal - March 2019 Update

In February I took another Outreach team to Syria, thanks to an invitation from our partner, the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon, and their General Secretary, the Rev. Joseph Kassab, who was with us in Syria for much of the time. At the end of this update, you will find a timely word from him: a reminder that support for the families that make up these faithful congregations still requires our help until the economy of Syria recovers. In this trip update one of our travelers, Mike Kuhn, shares his reflection on the ministry of education offered by two of the Presbyterian Churches in the far northeast corner of Syria: Hasakeh and Qamishli.
Marilyn Borst, Associate Director for Partnership Development

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Syria Appeal - September 2018

Bringing a child forward for baptism is always a sacred moment-holy ground-both for the parents and the congregation who, in our Reformed tradition, pledge to assist the family in raising that child to know Christ and to serve him. And there is little Christian Khatouf, pictured above with his two older brothers barely visible behind his mom, awaiting the water, old enough to know what is happening and seemingly “at home” in front of a “full house” in his home church in Nabek, Syria about 50 miles north of Damascus. As Christian looks up at the camera, he is also seeing a “wall of clergy” standing in the chancel, for his baptism had been delayed for just this moment in time – the rededication of his Presbyterian Church home that had been badly damaged by terrorists during the war.

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Syria Appeal - May 2018

In April, I was able to take a small team into Syria to meet with three of the congregations of the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon, which your generous gifts have sustained and encouraged. I cannot but be enormously grateful for those who chose to defy all of the possible “no’s” to come on this journey and be present to our sisters and brothers there: 
Rev. Tom and Joy Boone, Julie Burgess, Rev. Jim Wood and Brian Collins. The fact that their families and congregations (Bethel Presbyterian Church, Cornelius, NC; West Hills Church, Omaha; First Presbyterian Church Norfolk, VA) sent them off with their (somewhat anxious?) blessing confirms their discernment that God’s YES preceded our journey. What follows is part of our daily trip blog, this one written by Julie Burgess while we were in Aleppo in April.
–Marilyn Borst, Associate Director for Partnership Development

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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.

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Syria Appeal - November 2017

With Every Act of Love

I was recently listening to a favorite song by Jason Gary and the refrain reminded me of the many, many ways in which your gifts to the Syria Appeal have encouraged the work and witness of the Presbyterian Church in Syria over these past years of war: supporting families so that they can remain despite the awful economics of war; undergirding the mission and ministries of individual congregations; helping to train the next generation of leadership for those churches.

We bring the kingdom come
With every act of love
Jesus, help us carry You
Alive in us, Your light shines through
With every act of love
We bring the kingdom

The photos included here give glimpses into the ways in which your generous gifts – your “every act of love” –

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Syria Appeal October 2017

What is the Church Supposed to Look Like?

Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.   Romans 12: 10-12

What does YOUR church look like as the fall activities get under way? Perhaps Paul’s “litmus test” is a good way to assess its vitality, visibility and vision. The same “test” could be applied to the Presbyterian Church in Syria – which your gifts to our Syria Appeal have supported and encouraged over these past difficult years. Consider these glimpses into the mission and ministry of these congregations of the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon and judge for yourself – and then thank God for the work and witness of the Church in Syria, even in the midst of war! 

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Syria Appeal - May 2017

I live in Atlanta and, like most Americans who spend a lot of time in their cars, I am well aware of how long it takes to drive to other cities where I sometimes go for work or even vacation: it is about a four-hour drive, north and west, to get to Nashville; in the other direction, it is about four hours east and south to get to historic Savannah. I was recently in Hasakeh, Syria, where that “four hours away” analysis recalled an unsettling reality: four hours to the west was Raqqa, the self-proclaimed “capital” of ISIS in Syria; four hours to the east was Mosul where, even now, the Iraqi army is attempting to drive out ISIS from the city they had hoped would be their “capital” in Iraq. Connecting Raqqa and Mosul is a swath of fertile farmland where, in the middle, stands the city of Hasakeh, smack dab in the center of the area which was targeted to be the “heartland” of a new ISIS caliphate. 

If you were a Christian living in Hasakeh, and in such proximity to danger, would you be “too close for comfort”?

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Syria Appeal

God with Us

Note: An Outreach team of ten traveled in January to Lebanon and Syria. They visited some of the 18 Presbyterian churches in Syria, meeting with pastors and church members. Jack Baca, an Outreach trustee, reflects on a part of the journey…

One of the key affirmations of Christian faith is that, in Jesus, God came to be with us. The angel said to Joseph that the child to be born would be called precisely that: Immanuel, God with us. We Christians take our clues for how we are to live from what God did and does in Jesus, and so we, too, go to be with others. This is an expression of love: to do what it takes to be with others.

This ancient theology kept running in my mind on Saturday, the second full day of our time in the Middle East, as we spent the better part of the day traveling. Early in the morning we left Beirut for the arduous trip through that bustling city, into the countryside and through farmland, across the border, and into Syria, as we made our way to Latakia, on the coast.

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Syria Appeal

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. Isaiah 9:2

In this city, which was once a heap of ruin following a three-year siege at the beginning of the war, the women of the Presbyterian Church in Homs could not ignore the needs outside the walls of their church. With so many people displaced from other cities and often with no family or resources, to be sick or wounded was a frightening prospect. And so Micheline Koudmani, wife of Homs’ pastor Rev. Mofid Karajili and president of the Evangelical Women’s Charitable Association of Homs, challenged her organization (which was founded in 1930 at the Presbyterian Church) to minister to those whose needs could not be met adequately by other agencies. With a grant from The Outreach Foundation they began to bring hope and the presence of Christ in lives unraveling...

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Syria Appeal - October 2016 Update

From Marilyn Borst, Associate Director for Partnership Development: For the past year, your gifts to the Syria Appeal have made it possible for the Presbyterian Church in Homs, Syria to offer a life-giving ministry of reconciliation entitled “Space for Hope” to young people in its war-ravaged neighborhood. Recently, the World Communion of Reformed Churches (www.wcrc.ch) posted an article about this ministry, which we share here with the blessing of its author, Phil Tanis. 

Syrian Christians Create Space for Hope

In war-torn Syria, hope is fading for many. After five years of civil war, there are few who have not lost family members or close friends, but life needs to go on for those who are alive, for those who have stayed. They struggle to continue with their lives every day, to study and work, although jobs have become scarce, and to maintain as much normalcy as possible amidst the war and the ever-present threat of attacks, while dreaming about a better future and peace.

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Syria Emergency Appeal

Despite an attempt at peace talks, war rages in Syria. But, the Presbyterian Church is faithfully bringing spiritual, emotional and physical relief to the people. They need our help.

Please CLICK HERE to learn more about the crisis and access resources to help your congregation better understand the situation in Syria. Together, we can help the Church in Syria to help its people.

Or, CLICK HERE to make an immediate donation to the Syria Emergency Appeal.

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Syria Appeal/Refugee Crisis - March 2016 Update

Located just 20 miles due east of Beirut, the Bekaa Valley stretches for 75 miles and lays claim to the richest agricultural land in the country where wheat, corn, cotton and an array of vegetables flourish. Its vineyards have given rise to a wine industry that is now world renowned. The Bekaa is also now home to over 370,000 of the 1.1 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon, many of whom have been living in tents in dismal camps for years – and most of them are children. In a country of only four million, the Lebanese public schools are able to accommodate only a fraction of these Syrian refugee children. 

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Syria Appeal - December 2015 Update

The people walking in darkness
    have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
    a light has dawned….

So begins Isaiah’s poetic, prophetic chapter whose words echo in song and in sermon at this time of the year – and which crescendos to a naming of the when and the what and the Who which Handel set so perfectly to music that now very few of us can read it with our eyes without actually hearing it in our ears:

For unto us a child is born,
    unto us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders…

So why, you might ask, does this passage lead me to thoughts of Aleppo? Perhaps, because few places in Syria have been so hard hit for so long, so hammered by violent factions, so deprived of life’s basics, so seemingly stripped of hope and a future – its world-heritage sites decimated, its population significantly reduced…

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Syria Appeal - September 2015 Update

It certainly isn’t any coverage of Syria which you would see on CNN or read even in the New York Times. Bad news seems to garner viewers and readers – and there is certainly plenty of that to go around where Syria is concerned. But we Christians should seek an additional narrative, namely, what is happening with Christ’s Church in that place. And that has been the story which we at The Outreach Foundation have consistently and joyfully told over the past three years...

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Syria Appeal - August 2015 Update

At the end of July, seven women from Presbyterian churches around the U.S. made a unique mission-vision journey to the Middle East to meet, learn about and build personal relationships with women from Presbyterian churches in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq. Led by Marilyn Borst, The Outreach Foundation’s Associate Director for Partnership Development, they spent a week at the conference center of the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon at Dhour Schweir in the mountains north of Beirut. A hundred sisters came together from difficult places for a time of learning, rest, fellowship and exuberant worship.

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Syria Appeal - July 2015

The news media, this week, gave much airtime to the tragic statistics: 4 million Syrians are now refugees in other countries and 7.6 million are internally displaced. With a pre-war population of 22 million that makes for half of the population having left their homes and livelihood – the equivalent of about 150 million U.S. citizens, if this was our story. So who has stayed? Well, the Church has stayed. Or, at least, a substantial portion of the Church – still committed to its work and witness and worship, its mission and ministry. 

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Syria Relief Update - June 2015

Tucked up into the far northeast corner of the country sharing borders with both Turkey and Iraq, the Hasakah Governate is one of 14 provinces in Syria. Rich in oil and grain production, it has been the stage for intense fighting between government forces and various opposition groups, including ISIS. It is also home to three Presbyterian congregations: Qamishli, Malikiya and Hasakah (city). The province is geographically isolated, as of late, because ISIS controls the main travel routes which connect it to the rest of the country. The National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon – The Outreach Foundation’s partner and main recipient of your generous gifts to the Syria Appeal – sent a delegation to meet with these churches in May.

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