24. 09. 2013 | News, Archive 2013
Syrian AppealCall for help from Beirut reaches EMS Fellowship
Rev. Dr. Habib Badr: "The situation in Syria for us was never as difficult as it is today!"
(Stuttgart, 24.09.2013) In face of the recent developments in Syria, Dr. Habib Badr, Senior Pastor of the National Evangelical Church of Beirut (NECB), has issued an urgent request for assistance to the Evangelical Mission in Solidarity (EMS). "The current situation in Syria has never been so difficult and complicated as it is today,
in particular for the Christian communities living there", Badr writes. What began as a peaceful uprising against the regime is now a very bloody struggle involving many thousands of radical Islamic fighters from abroad and from Syria. The opposition is divided and has no common goals. "They lack a common vision of the shape of a future Syria”, says Badr.
The escalating violence in Syria forces more and more Syrians to flee. Many of them are seeking protection in neighbouring countries. According to the UN refugee agency UNHCR 1.9 million people have already left the country. About 530,000 have sought protection in Jordan; more than 730,000 refugees are currently living in Lebanon, where a population of under four million is bearing the brunt of the refugee crisis. In the schools of Lebanon in this school year alone, there are more Syrian children enrolled than Lebanese. “Lebanon cannot sustain the burdens of the influx of this great number of refugees”, says Badr. The consequences of this tragedy are having a devastating effect on the security situation in Lebanon, which is already unstable, causing enormous damage to the economy, political stability and social cohesion of the country.
In his letter Badr asks the EMS Fellowship first and foremost to pray for peace in the region. "We can and must pray for peace. We must pray in our hearts, we must pray in our homes, we must pray in our chur-ches on Sundays and on every other occasion available to us", writes Badr, who is also Vice Chairman of the EMS Mission Council.
It is of utmost importance to advocate for peace, justice and non-violence at all levels, especially with governments, leaders and authorities. This includes a clear opposition to any transfer of arms to Syria. "Whoever supplies weapons to the warring parties must be aware that these weapons may be used against Christians and other minorities." A possible military intervention by the USA, which has been averted for the time being, is not regarded by Badr as a solution. "Democratic structures cannot be established through such an intervention."
According to Badr, governments, churches and NGOs are obliged to provide humanitarian assistance to the suffering civilian population and the refugees. “We must use our human and material resources to alleviate the sufferings of our Christian and non-Christian brothers and sisters in Syria and Lebanon, thereby lighting a candle in the darkness engulfing the people of God in the Middle East."
EMS Mission Council chair Rev. Marianne Wagner calls upon the EMS Fellowship to support their Christian brothers and sisters in the Middle East: "We share in the suffering of the people in Syria and the Middle East. Now we hear that the situation is deteriorating. I appeal to everyone in the EMS Fellowship and beyond to respond to the request of our brothers and sisters for support and prayer."
The EMS Secretariat is in close contact with the churches in the area. "Whether we speak with many Christians in the Middle East or in Germany, all emphasize that we must urge the warring parties to come to the negotiating table”, says Rev. Ulrike Schmidt-Hesse, Head of Mission and Partnership at EMS. "I hope that the negotiations with regard to Syria’s chemical weapons will be a first step, leading to peace talks in which all groups are involved."
The Evangelical Mission in Solidarity (EMS) is an association of 23 churches and five mission societies from ten countries in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Europe working towards global mission and church cooperation. One member of EMS is the Evangelical Association for the Schneller Schools (EVS), which supports two schools in Jordan and Lebanon.
The EMS calls upon all Christians to intercede for Syria.