God is not far from us
I thank God through Jesus Christ for all of you. – Romans I:8
“Faith makes you act crazy.”
Rev. Ibrahim Nseir is pastor of the National Presbyterian Church in Aleppo, Syria. He is speaking about the apparent foolishness of staying in Aleppo and believing he can make a difference in his community during the war.
We MCC people who are visiting our partners in Syria are meeting with a roomful of people who are displaced because of the war and are part of the church’s ministry.
Fatima tells us about her son who was kidnapped by the gangs four years ago. She and her family had to flee their house in order to pay the gangs to release her son, and now her family is homeless. It was only this church, she says, who would help them with cash payments supported by MCC.
Hussein and his family were also displaced when gangs targeted his home. The church has helped his family with food boxes, blankets and some cash. “Without you, we could not live day to day,” he tells us.
Maryam was recently divorced and she and her children had no place to go. “When I had no one to help me, the church was here for me,” she says. Today, she sings in the church choir and teaches Sunday school.
The people in the room know that their support is coming to them from MCC through the Presbyterian church. Maryam tells us, “I always thank God for you and pray for you and ask God to bless all of you.”
The next day, Sunday, we worship with both a Syrian Orthodox church and with this Presbyterian congregation. Outside the Syrian Orthodox Church building, we are taken to a well that we are told MCC helped to fund several years ago when water was scarce during the fighting in the city.
We visit with leaders of the Presbyterian church before worship and then are led into their new sanctuary. The old one was completely demolished during the war.
“Rebuilding this church is a sign of hope that Christians can remain in this land. By faith, we believe tomorrow will be better than today,” Rev. Nseir tells us.
Later that afternoon, we walk in the old city and we see where the old Presbyterian church once stood. “You have suffered with us and rejoiced with us,” Rev. Nseir says, “And your presence with us today is a sign of hope that God is not far from us.”
Ron Byler is executive director of MCC U.S.
(The names of the displaced people mentioned above have been changed for security reasons.)