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Three children play in an informal tent settlement in the Bekaa valley, Lebanon.

Syria: Five years of conflict

By Stella Chetham | 14 Mar 2016

Tuesday 15 March marks five years since the start of Syria’s brutal war. Let’s join together this week to counter despair and bring back some much-needed hope for Syria.

Hope is a four-letter word

In just half a decade, Syria’s war has sparked one of the greatest humanitarian emergencies of a generation, and the worst refugee crisis since the Second World War. More than a quarter of a million people have been killed. An average of 50 Syrian families have fled their homes every hour of every day since 2011.

And yet, where the darkness is darkest, the light shines the brightest.

Let’s defy the prevailing mood of despair and answer it with steadfast trust in a God who makes beauty from ashes. Let’s make sure hope is more than a four-letter word for Syria.

Join us this week as we reflect on a different reason for hope each day. We’d love you to share these stories with others and take some of the actions suggested. But most of all we’d love you to pray with us.

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#5ReasonsForHope

Reason #1: The remarkable people of Syria

Issan and Ali share a single tarpaulin-walled room with their two grandchildren. But, far from grumbling, Issan repeatedly thanks God. ‘We have this tent, which is more than we can ask for, at least in all the situation we are going through,’ says Issan. ‘We keep dreaming. And when the food packages are delivered, we party!’ Grateful for small things, resourceful, ready to get back up and keep going – these are some of the qualities we see in so many of the Syrians we work with.

ACTION: Send this letter to your MP to urge the UK government to do more to find solutions to the conflict, for the sake of these and other amazing Syrians.

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Reason #2: Our local partners, bridging divides to care for refugees

Amina remembers the childhood trauma of watching a Syrian sniper shoot two of her neighbours when Syrian forces occupied Lebanon. Yet, when their former enemies started pouring into their country in desperate need, she and her husband knew they had to put their faith into action and help them. Today, they run a school for Syrian refugee children, which was supported by Tearfund.

ACTION: Ask God to help you forgive someone who has hurt you.

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Reason #3: The bravery of the Syrian church

In some of the most dangerous areas, churches have become centres for aid where conventional agencies are unable to get through. It was a job most of them never expected to do, but they’re now setting an example for others. ‘People see the churches as a refuge,’ says Raya from a Tearfund partner in Syria. ‘Churches are filled in times of disaster, because people are clinging to God. They need both physical and spiritual support.’

ACTION: Pray for protection for our church partners in Syria.

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Reason #4: The next generation

‘I want to be an engineer,’ says Ahmad aged 13. ‘I would love to build a lot of things. There are a lot of things missing, like companies, hospitals, banks, and houses and schools. I love running most, and playing football, but I don’t have a football.’ Ahmad is one of countless Syrian children who are irrepressible in their zest for life and their hope for a brighter future. And they are today’s reason for hope.

ACTION: Thank God for the tenacious joy and hope of young Syrians, and pray for them every day this next week. Pray that their dreams would be realised.

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Reason #5: You!

However you are involved, because you care, you are a reason to have hope for Syria. ‘I would like to say thank you to all of you who support us,’ says Zeina, a mother of six in Lebanon. ‘If you didn’t help us with this food, we would be in a bad situation right now.’ Thank you for everything you do!

ACTION: If you want to continue supporting Syrians, and feel led to donate, please consider supporting our Middle East Appeal.

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Across the Middle East, Tearfund is providing life-saving aid, as well as helping people deal with the trauma of being caught in the crossfire.

Find out more about our work in Syria and the Middle East.

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Photo of Stella Chetham

Written by Stella Chetham