By Charles Braddix
DAMASCUS, Syria (BP) — “I am staying,” a Baptist pastor in Syria said. “They tell me to travel, to leave, to emigrate, but I tell them I am staying.”
He is one of several pastors who serve in Baptist churches throughout Syria caught up in civil war.
“I am staying for the church, to keep the message of Jesus as a light for the lost and frightened,” the pastor said. “I am staying because the harvest is plentiful. I am staying to serve the needy.”
The pastor, weeping, quoted the prophet Jeremiah, “‘Oh that my head was water and my eyes were pools of water, that I may cry for the dead of my people.’
“Even though we are living in difficult times, let us not stop being faithful to our Lord.”
Every day the numbers rise as Syria’s crisis rages out of control and spills across borders into neighboring countries. There are now more than 2 million refugees, 5 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) and 100,000 dead.
“This is an unparalleled challenge,” said Don Alan*, a senior missions strategist for the Middle East. “It is destabilizing the whole region.”
Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt struggle to cope with the escalating Syrian refugee situation. Within Syria, civilians are caught between armed rebels and government troops.