THE Pope, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and other church leaders took the opportunity of the celebration of Christmas to pledge support for the oppressed Christian communities in the Middle East.
On Christmas Day itself, Iraq experienced one of the worst atrocities aimed at the country’s Christian minority, when at least 34 people were killed in bombings in Baghdad. Many thousands of Syrian Christians, meanwhile, are among the millions of civilians displaced by the war in their country.
In his Christmas Day sermon in Canterbury Cathedral, Archbishop Welby said that, while Christians were singing about Bethlehem, “we see injustices in Palestine and Israel, where land is taken or rockets are fired, and the innocent suffer. We see injustice in the ever more seriously threatened Christian communities of the Middle East. The Prince of Wales highlighted their plight last week.”
The Archbishop also referred to the killings that day in Iraq, “where there have been Christians since the first century”, and where “more people testified to their faith with their lives. Christians in the region are attacked and massacred, driven into exile from an area in which their presence has always been central, undoubted, essential, richly contributing, faithful.”
Christians in Syria impacted by the internal conflict are crying out for help.
Open Doors USA is hearing from some of the churches about the masses of displaced families who were forced out of their homes and left homeless, living in public parks or the wilderness.
Jerry Dykstra, an Open Doors spokesman, tells OneNewsNow, “We got a report from one pastor that the country in a lot of areas is deprived of even shelter, water, power, food, medical care, and a lot of families have lost loved ones. People have lost their jobs because they’re terrified of the shelling in some of these major cities like Aleppo and Homs.”
Many thousands have fled to neighboring countries, but Open Doors is assisting many of those devastated, — an effort that has spread beyond people of the Christian faith.
“We not only have been able to get in some Bibles, but also some relief goods,” Dykstra reports. “Some of those are being distributed in certain areas, and we hear reports that some of the Christians are sharing those relief items with their Muslim neighbors. Many of them face homelessness and are needy and lack food, so there is ministry going on even in the midst of all the horrific conditions there.”
Open Doors is calling Christians worldwide to join in harmony in prayer for an end to the conflict, which has already claimed nearly 30,000 lives, and also for the safety of Christians who remain in the country.