After more than a decade of conflict, economic collapse compounded by COVID-19 Syria’s Christian minority continues to hold on. Today two brave Franciscan friars, Father Luai Bsharat, OFM and Father Hanna Jallauf, OFM serve the remaining 300 Christian families in Knayeh and Yacoubieh, Syria. These brave friars continue to serve and try to protect the Christians who remain. Their presence is a sign of hope in the midst of darkness. This area is near Antioch, where Saint Paul began his travels and where some of the first Christians originated. Since 1272, The Franciscans have been serving in the Holy Land.
Extremists control the area by Sharia law
All the other Christian ministers and priests have left the area, and for good reason. Many Christians have been kidnapped and murdered, including one of our own friars. Father François Murad, OFM was kidnapped and beheaded by jihadists in 2013. More recently, a female schoolteacher was raped and murdered in Yacoubieh. Together, both the Franciscan missionaries and the Christian families, that they serve, are living like “lambs among wolves.” Christian cemeteries have been desecrated and churches have been burned or converted into mosques or stables. Christians are forbidden to celebrate their faith openly and cannot display any Christian symbols. Christian women must wear veils and dress in a manner according to Sharia law. Christian teenage girls must be kept hidden because if they are caught in public, they can be kidnapped, raped and sold as sex slaves.
Hope Amid Terror
The vicious conflict in Syria has been raging for more than 11 years. Many Christian families have fled to other countries to escape from the war, from the bombs, and from the terror. But the poorest among them could not get away. And many have been trapped in refugee camps where they live under tarps during freezing weather. These refugees live in fear and sorrow, but they have not abandoned their hope that one day all this will come to an end. Their hope amid terror and discrimination is a witness of a splendid faith that should teach all of us.
We Need Your Help to Bring a Sign of Hope in the Midst of Darkness
It is my hope and prayer that you will support our brave missionary friars in Syria as they serve people trapped under cruel extremists. Will you stand with them in their time of need? Food is desperately needed to help these families survive. Christians are not allowed to work or to own or sell property. Every month, our friars distribute food to the families. The monthly food distribution consists of beans, oil, and rice. The cost per month for each family is only about $10, and these friars are supporting three hundred families! Please bring a sign of hope in the midst of darkness.
Every $10 you share will feed a family for an entire month! Feed a family for 3 months with a gift of $30 or for 6 months with $60! You can feed a family for a year with your gift of $120! Your gift will help provide lifesaving emergency food. The most vulnerable people are the elderly and widows trying to care for their children alone. Will you answer the cries of the children and families and send a gift today to help them survive under the rule of extremists?
Your prayers and financial support will keep hope alive in the hearts of the innocent people living through the horror and the tragedy of these times just because they believe in Jesus Christ! Please help Fr. Hanna and Fr. Luai respond to their cries for help.
We Franciscans always remember you in our prayers with infinite gratitude. God bless you.
Brother Andrew Brophy, OFM
P.S. Please send a generous gift today to help our Franciscan missionaries provide lifesaving food to innocent people living in danger under cruel extremists.