I remember when I was in college, a Christian Economics professor shared with us the reason he followed international news. He did not follow international news just to be nosy or to be entertained. News can get us depressed, thrusting into our face massive evil and suffering that are too much to bear. But as Christians, we have a different "calling" when we follow international news. We follow them so we know how to pray and intercede for people and the leaders in other parts of the world.
Each time I hear an update about Syria, I remind myself to interject a quick prayer to ask God for mercy and to intervene. Praying for international affairs is like spiritual lifting weights. It requires endurance and an exercise of faith. I would be quick to confess that I often got dejected and failed to respond in prayer. One needs faith (trusting that God can intervene) to pray against gross human atrocities and suffering without getting discouraged.
Here are some updates about the Syrian Christians, adopted from the Christian Freedom International:
- Many in the Christian community, which comprises approximately 6 percent of Syria’s population (1.5 million, including Christian refugees from Iraq), have fallen into severe financial hardship since the Arab Spring uprising, primarily because they are too afraid to leave their homes to go to work. Because of the violence, a shortage of basic supplies such as gas, electricity, and many supermarket products has contributed even further to the desperate situation.
- Although the Syrian church has historically enjoyed peace and religious freedom under the Assad regime, the Arab Spring has destabilized that peace, as Christians are now typically perceived as supporters of the existing government. With help from fellow Muslims in Saudi Arabia, many Islamic fundamentalists are taking advantage of the opportunity to pursue their agenda in Syria, which has significantly increased the persecution of Christians.
- Faced with the threat of a full scale civil war and intervention by the international community — factors which may bring about even greater persecution — many Christians are preparing to leave Syria altogether. This possibility could create a crisis similar to the exodus in Iraq, where thousands of Christians have fled intense persecution for safer regions, leaving the Iraqi church practically nonexistent.
Would you spend a moment to pray for Syria?
God of Compassion,
Hear the cries of the people of Syria,
Bring healing to those suffering from the violence,
Bring comfort to those mourning the dead,
Strengthen Syria’s neighbors in their care and welcome for refugees,
Convert the hearts of those who have taken up arms,
And protect those committed to peace.
God of Hope,
Inspire leaders to choose peace over violence and to seek reconciliation with enemies,
Inspire the Church around the world with compassion for the people of Syria,
And give us hope for a future of peace built on justice for all.
We ask this through Jesus Christ,
Prince of Peace and Light of the World,
[This prayer is from Catholics Confront Global Poverty, a collaborative effort of USCCB and Catholic Relief Services.]