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RESOURCE CENTER AND ARCHIVES

Women lose homes, face rape, violencecomment (0)

August 8, 2013

By Eden Nelson


Sitting in the room drinking our extremely strong coffee, we are updated on the latest occurrences in Syria by a firsthand witness, hearing about her family that was slaughtered. In Arabic that is a word only used for Eid-Al-Adha, when the lambs are slaughtered — very rarely used for murders. So to be termed as the family being slaughtered implies unfathomable brutality.

The slaughter is discussed with downcast eyes and other people across the room tell of other stories they have heard. After talking about Syria for most of the visit, eventually the room grows quiet. A burden that heavily weighed upon each person seems to fill the room. This tragedy is not something people know how to deal with.

How do you live when all you once had is gone? Your home country is completely torn to pieces and you are left in a land that will never be your home. You will always be an outsider with a passport from a country to which you can’t return. Many Syrians who have fled are terrified of returning. The fact that they have fled their homeland is a perceived death warrant, so the potential of one day returning seems hopeless.

They have lost their homes, their families, their status and their work, all laid in the rubble of a seemingly never-
ending, malicious war. After the long pause, one of the men asks, “Until when?” How long will this last? The people of Lebanon and Syria have seen so much devastation over the past four years.

How does one bear the burden of such destruction and hurt? How do they walk around Lebanon normally, knowing that their family is locked inside of their house in Syria afraid of leaving their home?

They wait for a phone call, willing to answer their phones at all hours of the day in case it is a friend letting them know their family is OK, always waiting, always wondering if today could be the day their family disappears.

Putting pen to paper even to begin to express the details of this war is difficult. Interviewing Syrian refugees who have been deeply affected and hurt by the war evokes an ache in my heart that I do not fully know how to explain.

Stories of women being raped, brothers being killed, nephews being kidnapped, villages being utterly destroyed, livelihoods being shattered and children being shot. Those are only a few of the horrendous stories I have heard as I journey to learn more about what is happening in this two-year civil war.

To describe in words the pain that is written on these people’s faces is not possible.

I try to relate to the best of my ability, but I am unable. I have never been forced to leave my homeland knowing that leaving may mean I never get to return, leaving behind all of my childhood memories, work, friends, neighbors and the peace of knowing where you belong.

How does one cope with such a loss? How is one able to continue waking up each day when he or she has lost everything?

Zulema said to me, “The Lord is with me, I have no fear.”

Wow.

Zulema is a woman I wish all Christians could encounter. Her love for the Lord is contagious and as she sits in what I view as such an awful situation, she says this is the happiest she has ever been. Why? Because Christ is within her.

She leaves me speechless.

The perspective of a Syrian is already difficult to imagine, then to meet a woman so captivated by her God that she has no fear.

‘I could learn a thing or two’

I think I could learn a thing or two from my Syrian brothers and sisters, what it means to be content in all circumstances, what it means to look upon tragedy and see the Lord’s mercy and love.

Please remember the Syrian crisis. Each time you view an update on the news, pray for God’s protection and provision. Pray that the many refugees who have fled their homeland will find home in Christ. Pray they will encounter His peace, His love, His mercy and His salvation in the midst of devastation.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Names changed for security reasons.

(IMB)

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