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Damascus Today

The following information is from Bold Believers in Syria, available in the Downloads section.

“So the Lord said to him, ‘Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying’ ” (Acts 9:11).

(The verse above is from the story about Saul in the Book of Acts. The Lord was speaking to Ananias. The Judas in the story is not the one who betrayed Jesus.)

Damascus is the capital of Syria. Straight Street is still a street in Damascus today. Visitors can see the street where Saul stayed after his encounter with Jesus on the way to the city. In the Chapel of Saint Ananias in Damascus, Christians can remember the events in Saul’s life. (See the previous post.)

Damascus Rose
The Damascus rose is a flower named after the Syrian city. Oil from the flower is used in perfume and cosmetics.

Damascus Steel
Damascus steel was used to make strong knives and swords. People who made them kept their method a secret. After a while the secret was lost, and no one remembered how to make the knives and swords. Damascus steel was said to be “superplastic,” meaning it would be easily shaped when heated. But it was very strong when it was cool.

Damask Cloth
Damask cloth, named after the city of Damascus, is used for furniture coverings, tablecloths, and sometimes clothing. The cloth is thick and is decorated in distinctive patterns.

The following information is from The Voice of the Martyrs’ Global Prayer Guide. Syrian Christians’ lives have been severely disrupted since the civil war began in 2011. Between 750,000 and 1 million Christians have fled the country. In the same period, many Muslims have come to Christ.

Churches in Syria have been a beacon of hope and a source of peace for Syrians of all backgrounds throughout the war. Syrians come to the church for a number of reasons: out of desperation, in search of food, in search of meaning and truth, and many times with questions about the hope that Syrian Christians have.

The news that neighboring host countries may send Syrian refugees home brings optimism for Syrian believers, because those who came to faith in nearby countries could return and strengthen local churches.


Lebanon: Kids Praying in Jesus’ Name

War in Syria has left many people, both Christians and Muslims, without homes. Some have fled the country for safer places. Christians started a school for Syrian refugee children in Lebanon.

When the school opened a few years ago, non-Christian students covered their ears when the Christians prayed. But now they gladly fold their hands to pray before meals. They ask for protection, clean hearts, and good health.

“Amazingly, these children pray in the name of Jesus,” said a VOM contact. “They actually believe He is the only one who can answer their prayer.”

The Christians are praying that the Syrian children will remain committed to Jesus and will share His love with other Syrians.

(Source: icommittopray.com)

Photo above: At first these children of Syrian refugees refused to pray. The teacher’s eyes are covered to protect her identity from people who may want to harm Christians.

Learn more from Bold Believers in Syria, available in the free Downloads section.


Lebanon: An Unusual Bible Club

Violence and war in Syria have forced both Muslims and Christians to leave their homes and live as refugees in other countries. Many of the refugees now live in Lebanon. They find shelter in tents, broken down buildings, and in fields. Their lives are difficult.

Churches in Lebanon try to help the refugees. Each month, Christians in a city in Lebanon teach Bible lessons to about 70 Syrian refugee children and their parents in a Bible club.

Recently, the Christians taught the children Luke 2:40 while their parents were learning the same verse in a parents’ meeting. The children’s Muslim parents know they are studying the Bible, but they don’t mind. In fact, the parents are impressed with the things they are learning from Scripture.

The staff meet regularly for prayer and discipleship with a group of eight boys and five girls after each study. “We would like to thank the Lord for the ministry in the difficult area of our country where we are serving,” said the Bible ministry team leader.

To Talk About
*Read Luke 2:40. Who is the verse telling about?
*Read about Syria here. What does it say about Muslims leaving their religion to become Christians? Do you think it takes courage for a Syrian Muslim to go to a Christian Bible study?
*What does the team leader say about his ministry? Do you think it takes courage for the Bible club leaders to teach Muslims about the Bible? Is there anyone with whom you might be reluctant to share the gospel?


Syria: Ziyad and the Druze

Ziyad grew up in Syria. His family followed the Druze religion. But Ziyad left the Druze faith to become a Christian.

Read below about the Druze to better understand why Ziyad suffered persecution after he decided to follow Christ.

The Druze
The Druze broke away from Islam, the religion of Muslims, many centuries ago. Druze people gather for religious meetings on Thursdays instead of on Fridays, like Muslims, or on Sundays, like most Christians. They have many secrets, and only a few Druze know all the secrets.

No one is allowed to become a Druze if they were not born into a Druze family. And followers of Druze teachings are not allowed to leave the faith. Strong families and a strong Druze community encourage members not to explore other religions.

The Druze do not permit marriages to non-Druze people. To obey the rules, sometimes they marry people they do not love.

The Druze believe in reincarnation — the belief that people who die may return to life in other bodies.

(Source: Bold Believers in Syria, available in the free Downloads section.)

Ziyad
Five years ago, Ziyad placed his faith in Christ. His family immediately kicked him out of their house. He has been beaten, imprisoned, and even kidnapped for sharing his faith with others. People have insulted him on social media. Please ask God to protect him and provide for his daily needs.

(Source: icommittopray.com)


A Bible-Smuggling Donkey

Some Christians in Syria had a problem. Many Muslims in their area were leaving their religion, Islam, and following Jesus. But that wasn’t the problem; that was wonderful news! The problem was that the new believers did not have Bibles to help them learn more about their new faith. Bibles were hard to get in their country.

So the Christians texted someone in a nearby country where it was easier to find Bibles. “Can you get us more Bibles?” they texted.

“How many?” the man asked. “We need 200 Bibles,” they replied.

The handler loaded his donkey with the 200 Bibles and walked to the border between his country and Syria. But armed guards refused to let them cross the border. The handler led the donkey to another place along the border where the guards could not see them. The donkey knew the path into Syria. On its last trip across the border with its handler, it had been rewarded with a candy bar for making the trip successfully.

So the handler decided to risk letting the donkey cross the border alone. Donkeys were often used as pack animals in the area, so no one would be suspicious of a lone donkey. The handler prayed that the donkey would stay on the mile-long path.

Soon he got another text message. The donkey had made it safely to the Christians! Now more than 200 additional Christians and their families can read God’s Word.

“It’s the most unique Bible smuggling story I’ve heard,” a VOM worker said.

(Source: VOM workers and contacts. Edited for length, clarity, reading level, and security.)

Note: Christians residing in restricted nations are often denied access to Bibles. VOM’s “Bibles to Captive Nations” fund helps print and smuggle Bibles to believers—in their own language—who would otherwise live their lives without ever reading the word of God.

To Talk About
*How many Bibles are in your house? Where did they come from? Was it dangerous to get them to your house?
*Do you think the new Christians in the story read their Bibles often? Do you suppose the Bibles are more special to them because they were difficult to get?