Despite Syria's turmoil, church leaders say new people are coming to the faith

Syrian Christians are still making it to church in spite of the precarious situation in their countryReuters

With a civil war that has torn the country apart and the Islamic State taking oppressive control of towns and cities, there is much cause for sorrow in Syria.

But among all the bad news, one Christian in the country has some good news to share about the comfort people are finding in coming to church - including some who are taking their first steps through church doors.

The Open Doors worker, who cannot be named for security reasons, told the organisation: "We hear church leaders saying that the churches are not empty. New people are coming to church, interested in the gospel and comforted by the message. We hear of people coming to Christ."

Open Doors, a worldwide organisation supporting the persecuted church, is working through other Christian organisations and churches in Syria to provide relief to 9,000 families in the country. 

Assistance is being given in the form of food packages, shelter, medicine and blankets.  As many of the people who come into contact with the church have suffered greatly in the civil war or as a result of ISIS, Open Doors is also woring with its partners to provide trauma counselling training for Syrian Christian leaders.

That assistance is even more vital as Syrians get through the cold winter months with few provisions.

Even for those who have fled the country, there is no guarantee they will be free of want.  The UN's World Food Programme last week announced it was cutting food aid to Syrian refugees living outside refugee camps because it had run out of money. 

The provision of food has since resumed after a fresh push for donations brought in enough in the last week to top up food vouchers for 1.7 million refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt. 

At the start of this week though, the UN launched an unprecedented appeal for $16bn (£10.5bn) to fund its humanitarian operations for 2015.  Almost half of that sum has been earmarked for Syrians. 

UN Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Valerie Amos, said other humanitarian priorities for the coming year would be the Central African Republic, Iraq, South Sudan and Syria. 

"The rising scale of need is outpacing our capacity to respond," she said.  

To donate to UNHCR's appeal for Syrian refugees, click here

To donate to UNHCR's general funds, click here