For the past 8 years, Syria has been devastated by an increasingly violent civil war.
Encouraged by the events of the Arab Spring in 2010, rebellion against the rule of the President Bashar al-Assad broke out in 2011 and has since spiralled out of control as different factions, (as many as ten) sought (and still seek) to seize control of different parts of the country.
So called Islamic State, the al-Nsura front, the Free Syrian Army, radical Kurds, and other splinter groups, each backed by outside governments from Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, USA, or others, vie with each other and with government forces, supported by Russia, for supremacy in the country.
The effect on the country has been devastating, with many areas reduces to rubble.
Caught in the middle of this carnage and confusion, and often targeted by them are our Christian brothers and sisters and other minority ethnic or religious groups.
For many years Syria was considered to be a safe place for Christians to live. A hundred years ago Christians formed some 30% of the population. Today this has now dropped to 4.5%.
Many have become refugees, and live in camps, often outside the country in Lebanon, Turkey, or have travelled abroad as we see in sad pictures on our TVs.
Those who stay, are often attacked, abducted, held to ransom or just killed.
This leaves a high proportion of old, poor or infirm people as the main bulk of Christians in the country, and living in very poor conditions.
Humanitarian Aid is patchy due to the broken infrastructure, and complicated by the fractionality of the different groups using refugees as bargaining tools.
In spite of this there are many coverts to Christ, especially from a Muslim background, drawn by the loving and supportive welcome that they find in the Christian communities.
• Give thanks to God for those Christians who stay in Syria, despite the risks, to serve the Christian population left behind.
• Pray for the safe release of those who are held hostage.
• Pray for those living in war zones, for the Lord to protect and provide for them, shielding and guiding them each day.
• Pray for all those displaced in refugee camps, and those seeking refuge by travelling in Europe and beyond, that they may find a new home and a safe haven.
• Pray for a strengthening of faith for those who come to Christ at great personal risk, that they will stand firm in their new faith.
• Pray for all who have lost loved ones, homes, or livelihoods, or who have been injured and traumatised for healing and comfort in their distress.
• Pray for an end to the suffering and violence against so many innocent civilians, and for an enduring peace for the whole country.