In areas where Islamic militants are active, leaders of historical churches are particularly vulnerable to attack or kidnap, while most buildings belonging to such groups have been demolished or co-opted for Islamic use. For Christians living in these areas, there is little scope for expressing their faith – and many have been forcibly displaced from their homes.
In government-controlled areas, the authorities are tightening their grip on those whom they feel are a threat to social stability – including converts from Islam to Christianity. Although all Christian communities come under pressure, historical churches are in a stronger position to defend their rights than those from non-traditional church groups.
Throughout Syria, pockets of conflict persist, and Christians continue to be caught in the crossfire. Those who choose to leave Islam to follow Jesus can face intense pressure from their own families, particularly those living in Sunni regions.
“Every week, a Christian person or family I know is leaving the country, especially the younger generation. For me, every Christian around me in Syria is a reason to stay in the country. But it’s getting harder when I see people of my inner circle leaving.”
Ibrahim (name changed), Open Doors local partner.
What does Open Doors do to help?
Open Doors works through local church partners and Centres of Hope to strengthen the Church in Syria through literature distribution, discipleship and leadership training, trauma counselling, vocational training, relief aid and practical support for internally displaced people and earthquake victims.