1. What about Syria?
Location: Syria is a country in Western Asia. It borders Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the west, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest.
Size: 186, 475 km2 (about 2.5 times bigger than New Brunswick)
Religion: According to Operation World, Syria is 90% Muslim (20,254,582 people), 6% Christian (1,426,823 people), and 0.1% Evangelical Christian (23,663 people).
The birth of Jesus…
“In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria.” Luke 2:1-2
The conversion of Saul…
“Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him.” Acts 9:3
The early church…
“Now there were in the church at Antioch of Syria prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.” Acts 13:1-3
2. What is the Syrian Refugee Crisis?
For the past four years, Syria has been in a civil war that has forced 11 million people— half the country’s pre-crisis population—to flee their homes. About 7.6 million Syrians have been internally displaced within the country and 4 million have fled Syria for other countries. The result is one of the largest forced migrations since World War II.
Are all the refugees fleeing Islamic State (ISIS)? Not necessarily. The crisis is mostly caused by the civil war in Syria. In 2011, during the Middle Eastern protest movement known as the Arab Spring, protesters in Syria demanded the end of Ba’ath Party rule and the resignation of President Bashar al-Assad, whose family has held the presidency in the country since 1971. In April 2011, the Syrian Army was sent to quell the protest and soldiers opened fire on demonstrators. After months of military sieges, the protests evolved into an armed rebellion and has spread across the country.
Although the conflict was originally between factions for and against President Assad, the civil war has broadened into a battle between the country’s Sunni majority against the president’s Shia Alawite sect. The conflict has drawn in neighboring countries and world powers and lead to the rise of jihadist groups, including Islamic State.
3. Who is ISIS?
ISIS (also known as ISIL) is the group that during the Iraq War was often referred to as “Al-Qaeda in Iraq.” ISIS stands for The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (the group is actually called “The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant” but most western media translate “Levant” as “Syria.”). The group claims it is an independent state with claims to Iraq, Syria, and Lebannon. It was established in the early years of the Iraq War and pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda in 2004. The group has targeted military and governments of Iraq and Syria but has also claimed responsibility for attacks that have killed thousands of Iraqi civilians. According to a study compiled by U.S. intelligence agencies, ISIS has plans to seize power and turn the country into an fundamentalist Islamic state.
4. Where Can I Learn More?
Fredericton is 1 of 36 destinations for Syrian refugees CBC News, November 24 2015
The executive director of the Multicultural Association of Fredericton (MCAF) has confirmed Fredericton is one of 36 identified “destination” cities for Syrian refugees.
What Syrian refugees can expect on arrival in Canada Toronto Sun, December 8 2015
“They will enter this terminal as refugees,” said a beaming Jurisic. “They will leave as permanent residents of Canada.”
Love and Loss in Syria’s Refugee Crisis Cort Gatliff, The Gospel Coalition
“In the middle of this chaos, Ibrahim, a former Muslim who left behind his home in Syria, is serving refugees in Istanbul and taking advantage of every opportunity to tell them about his faith in Jesus.”
Should We Pray For ISIS To Be Defeated Or Converted? Russel Moore
“The main problem is that we sometimes forget that we are called to be a people of both justice and justification, and that these two are not contradictory.”
“Cleansing the Caliphate:” ISIS and Genocide of Christians J.J. Daniels, Providence
Reports that the White House will declare that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has committed genocide against Iraqi Yazidis, but not against Christians, are of grave concern.
WORLDWIDE REFUGEE CRISIS
It’s not just Syria: Refugee crisis is 60 million and growing MercyCorps, October 1 2015
Right now, there are nearly 60 million refugees or displaced people worldwide. If all of the world’s refugees were the population of a country, it would be the 24th largest in the world, just after Italy.
5. What Can I Do?
The website The Syrian Circle provides some daily prayer points to direct you on how to best pray for this crisis.
The Multicultural Association of Fredericton (MCAF) outlines a few ways that people can practically help as they prepare for an influx of refugees. To stay up to date on all that the MCAF is doing (including training, information sessions, etc) visit their Facebook page.
Here are some ways that you can help with the Syrian Refugee Crisis:
If you know Arabic, the MCAF needs interpreters for the Syrian refugees. The training for this role is scheduled for Dec 11 and 12. More info is here.
To apply for this specific role, please fill out this form.
If you have available housing or rental accommodations and would like to notify MCAF, please fill out this form.
There are three specific ways to help as a volunteer, with a minimum 6 month commitment:
1. First Fredericton Friends
Volunteers (Canadian-born and/or settled immigrants) will be matched with newly arrived newcomer(s) to meet once a week for two hours or more (volunteers share time and friendship with immigrants during the critical first six months) for conversation, friendship building, and to introduce them to their new community. MCAF will try to match you with a newcomer(s) with similar interests and the same gender.
2. Tutors: English and/or French
English and French tutors meet weekly with newcomer participants individually (one-on-one), or in small conversation groups providing extra help or an opportunity for newcomers to practice their English or French. Volunteers will develop/use teaching skills and learn more about new cultures.
Mentorships link professionals and skilled immigrants in the same or similar occupations/professions and provide a valuable learning opportunity for both mentor and mentee participants. Mentors provide informal advice, connections, moral support and entry into professional networks that allow a skilled immigrant to break into the job market at a level comparable with her/his training and education.
You can apply for any of these roles here.