ICC Note: While Syria continues to be drained of its Christian population, one church remains a steady support for Christians who still remain. In the midst of a bloody civil war and continuous threats from ISIS, this church in Damascus is actually growing. The gathering is lead by Pastor Edward Awabdeh, a dentist who previously practiced in the U.S. but returned to his home even after Syria was announced the fifth most dangerous country in the world for Christians.
05/24/2016 Syria (Christian Times): A church in Syria has stood courageously in the midst of constant threat from the Muslim extremist group ISIS and has seen growth as more people lean on it for support.
The church is led by Pastor Edward Awabdeh, a dentist who worked in the U.S. but returned to his home. While many Christians have fled the country, he chose to stay – even after Syria became the fifth most dangerous country for Christians.
Awabdeh said the risk that Christians face in Damascus is pretty much the same risk that other residents of the area face, with bombs randomly exploding and constantly threatening their lives. He himself experienced having a bomb fall on his house. Fortunately, it did not explode.
However, Christians face a bigger problem, as the extremist group is determined to wipe out “everything Christian” in the Middle East. In February 2015, ISIS abducted 250 people from 35 Christian villages. The attack caused 3,000 people to flee their homes.
“It breaks my heart to think that sometime the Middle East will be evacuated of the church of Christians,” Awabdeh said. “This thought scares me to death because that land where Christianity started and even where the work of the apostle Paul started, right there from Damascus, and from Antioch the mission work started.”
He said he has seen how important it is for Christians to keep doing the work of Christ in Syria in order to be “like a light in the darkness.”
Aside from having a weekly worship service, Awabdeh and his wife lead the church in ministering to traumatized children. They gather the children for simple activities like painting to help them have a sense of normalcy and to gain insight into their emotions.