In a nation fragmented by civil war, the recent earthquakes unearthed fresh memories of trauma.
Since the beginning of the Syrian conflict in 2011, many people have been displaced after losing their homes. Many live in extreme poverty. Still others have lost family members in the war and struggle to see a way out of despair. Now, Syria is reeling from one of the deadliest earthquake disasters in modern history. Where is hope amid the chaos?
TWR is meeting people where they are, even in tragedy. When Syrians have nowhere left to turn, radio programmes such as Hope for Syria and Youth in Mind offer comfort through God’s Word, like rays of light in dark times.
Since the first broadcast in 2014, Hope for Syria has examined difficult issues from a biblical perspective. Produced in the Syrian Arabic language, the programme is created by TWR’s local staff who are also grappling with shock and loss. Since the earthquake, each 15-minute episode of Hope for Syria has been modified to reflect the current situation. Jesus met both spiritual and practical needs when he walked the earth. Similarly, the media team in Syria balances spiritual themes with medical and psychological guidance.
TWR has teammates in earthquake-stricken areas of Syria. Calla*, from the TWR Arabic team, visited Aleppo and recalled what she saw after the latest earthquakes: “People just ran out of their homes when the earthquake hit, and didn’t manage to take anything with them besides what they were wearing. People lost a lot; not just their homes but their loved ones too.”
People are mostly on the streets, homeless and hungry. An Orthodox church in Aleppo is housing around 350 people—families, the elderly, children and infants. There’s a carpet to sleep on, but not enough blankets to go around. TWR Arabic teammates visited this church to talk, pray, and simply listen to the people there. Remarkably, they prayed with Muslims too, telling them about Jesus and the miracles he performed. They also strive to help in practical ways and in cooperation with the trusted local church, TWR is assisting with providing food and clothing as resources allow.
Although most church buildings are damaged, the congregations are uniting to help anyone in need. Resources are limited, but they hand out clothes and medical kits when they can. Calla reported seeing kids fight over a sandwich. They lack basic needs for survival. “When they receive jackets, they act like they just got a million dollars.” She then describes the families, “Mothers are heartbroken, kids are lost. You look at them and you see their dead eyes.”
So where is hope? Hope is in the streets, as Christians share with those in need. As they pray and cry with those suffering. As they sacrifice their own lives to share the story of Jesus’ sacrifice. “I believe that whole communities can change,” said Calla. “It starts with Jesus.”
* Name changed due to security.