• Pray for salvation for a largely unemployed youth who are turning to more extremist forms of Islam.
• Pray for Syria to be a leader in bringing peace to the Middle East.
• Pray for more Christian workers trained to reach the Muslim majority, many of whom have not heard the gospel.
Nestled between Turkey and Lebanon, modern-day Syria boasts a population of over 22 million people, 90% of which are Arabs. Damascus, its capital, is considered to be the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world. Syria's location on the fertile Mediterranean coast makes agriculture and tourism a critical part of its struggling economy. Numerous coups and political instability have been the norm and led the heavy-handed Hafez Al-Assad to come to power in 1970. Conflicts have arisen more recently as part of the Arab Spring, a sign of social turmoil in the Arab World. Protesters are calling for greater political freedom and the resignation of Hafez's son, Bashar, who rules with the same force as his father. The government has responded with great military force, which has served only to increase demonstrations across the country. Upwards of 7,000 people have been killed in these conflicts, and the United States, the Arab League, and the secretary general of the United Nations have all condemned the government's violence against protesters.
The political unrest has slowed economic growth because of international sanctions, and domestic consumption and production have declined as people flee the country. Many economic reforms had been made to stabilize the faltering economy, but it remains highly regulated by the government, causing many to lose homes, power, and jobs in the recent conflicts.
Syria is in desperate need of the peace that only Christ can bring. Islam is the religion of the majority, even though Syria has been a secular state since its independence from France in 1946. Fortunately, Christian minorities in Syria, such as the Orthodox and Catholic church, enjoy more freedom and stability than any other Middle Eastern country. Most Christians are Arab, but a large Armenian community exists as well. Protestants are typically converts from Orthodox or Catholic backgrounds and are generally concentrated in cities, leaving small towns with little to no Gospel witness. More Syrian Christian leaders need both the willingness and opportunity to receive training in leadership and theology to aide in reaching out to the larger Muslim population. Many unreached people groups in Syria, like the Sunni Arab majority and the Bedouin, Cirassian, Turkmen, and Gypsy minorities, have never even heard the Gospel message. The faith-filled New Testament church of Antioch was long ago housed in Syria. May the Syrian body of believers rediscover the zeal and faith of their fathers to cause Christ's love and hope to be poured out on a nation in great turmoil.
Source: Syriac Orthodox Hymn "Shlom Lekh": ProjectSyriac
Capital City: Damascus
Major People Groups: 92% Arab, 7% Kurd, 1% Armenian
Religion: 90% Muslim, 5% Christian, 2% Non
GDP Per Capita: $4,100
Literacy Rate: 79.6%