Syrian pastor: 'God is waking up a sleeping Church', more people becoming Christians than ever before
More people, including Muslims, are coming to Christ in Syria than ever before, as the five year anniversary of the civil war approaches, according to a persecution charity.
"We're in a big harvest. God is waking up a sleeping Church," one pastor told Open Doors. "The Muslims coming to faith are ready to die for their new beliefs; that is a different kind of Christianity."
The war in Syria has devastated its population, with 7.6 million people internally displaced and 4.6 million refugees having fled the country.
While the number of Christians officially in the country has decreased since the beginning of the war due to persecution, people – including Muslims – are still coming to faith in Jesus.
"What attracted me is the loving environment of the church," said one Syrian believer from a Muslim background living in Aleppo.
In February this year a church in Damascus, Alliance Church, planted a new church close to Homs; a city once dubbed the "capital of the revolution".
While the recorded number of Christians in Syria has fallen – from 1.9 million before the war to between 600,000-900,000 now, the number of Christians secretly worshipping is unknown.
New converts from Islam can face serious consequences for leaving their religion.
"We [my wife and I] both became Christians," a Syrian refugee in Lebanon told Open Doors. "My wife took her veil off, but people started to threaten us."
There are glimmers of hope on the ground in Syria. A church in Homs, alongside Open Doors, opened a furniture factory in February, which is now providing work for over thirty people and has already received orders internationally.
The charity has also financed the opening of a new pharmacy, which enables people to buy medicines at a reasonable price and offers discounts for those who cannot afford them.
"One of the needy women who received medicine for free burst into tears," an Open Doors contact said.
"We continue to live in Syria with hope that our country will heal from its painful outcomes. It will heal from its wounds and will regain peace soon," said one Syrian church leader.
"We, under the Lord's grace and through his strength, have decided to stay and carry on."