Syria needs much hope after eight years of brutal civil war. That is why Open Doors, through our local church partners in Syria helped establish the ‘Centers of Hope’ initiative. Children’s activities, food distribution, English lessons, youth activities, the Alpha course (an introduction to the Christian faith), Alpha marriage and Alpha parenting courses, discipleship for new believers, women’s meetings. They all have one thing in common: they’re all activities at ‘Centers of Hope’ throughout Syria. At the end of April 2019, sixteen centers are up and running – thanks to your support!
Arriving in Aleppo we find Pastor Abdallah of the Alliance Church waiting for us. He takes us to the ‘Center of Hope’ established within his church.
“Here we welcome the people who we help with food packages”, the pastor explains. This is one of the many activities that the church offers through their 'Center of Hope'.
Fifteen workers of the church dedicate their time to keep the distribution going six days a week.
“I believe we need to continue to help the people with food”, the pastor shared. “After Aleppo became a safe place, the prices increased dramatically, the rent for houses also increased. The people don’t have enough income to afford the overpriced living expenses. I think that we need to continue to support them with essential food packages.”
As well as this, the church started to focus more on income-generating projects, and on offering activities for people in the 'Center of Hope'.
Like the sweets and food shop setup by two ladies – Vartouhi and Tamar.
Because of the war George Dali had to leave the country and work abroad to earn money. With the support of our local partner, the Alliance Church, he was able to start an electrical shop, enabling him to return home and earn enough money to support his family in Syria.
Pastor Abdallah describes the need of the people he helps: “The families are perplexed and confused about their future. They are without jobs, their houses are destroyed or damaged. There are so many challenges in people’s lives. We need to encourage the Christians to stay in this land.”
About his motivation he says: “Our Lord is offering a better life for people. I believe that we should be the same way as our Lord Jesus Christ, offering a better life for people spiritually, but also practically.”
Abraham Rajeh Beidoun, an elderly man, arrives at the center and picks up a food package. “I get this package for myself, my son’s wife and my grandchild. My son was kidnapped five years ago. This really helps us.”
An man called Abdel Kader Sha’aban enters and guides his son who wears a military uniform. The son is blind. He lost his wife because of shelling during the war. One of his sons was kidnapped and is still missing; the son with him today lost his sight while serving in the Syrian army during the war. “The expenses are unimaginably high”, he says. “My salary is low and I have no one else who can work. This package supports us for a month.”
In the church sanctuary, children’s activities are taking place. Aghna, pastor Abdallah’s wife, and their daughter Camilia have just started singing with the many children filling the room.
When the evening falls, some young people enter the next-door house to meet for a time of fellowship and friendship.
Rubina (25) explains: “I already attended the meetings before the war even started. Here in the church we experience the presence of God. I witnessed how the Lord was with me during the war, how He protected me.”
For the 21-year-old Hanna the youth meetings are ‘very important’. “I have learned more about God here and been able to share with others. For me, my faith and coming to church, and to the activities, are the most important things in my life.”
And there is so much more going on in the Alliance Church in Aleppo. Like the meetings for Kurdish believers (all of them were raised as Muslims and have become followers of Jesus), Alpha courses, women’s meetings, ...
All of them taking place at the ‘Center of Hope’; in the Alliance Church, Aleppo, Syria – thank you!