Syria: How many more children must end up in body bags before the West acts?

As the drumbeat of military action in Syria grows ever louder, Christians in the country now find themselves between a rock and a hard place.

As the drumbeat of military action in Syria grows ever louder, Christians in the country now find themselves between a rock and a hard place.

On the one hand the country’s Christian community is faced by a President and government in Damascus not only failing to abide by its obligation to protect its citizens but actively doing them harm, deploying chemical weapons to repress rebellion where ever it may be found.

Yet faced with a government prepared to do whatever it takes to stay in office, Christians in Syria now fear also what the future holds, especially the motivations of the ‘rebels’ the West is now seeking to strengthen.

If we are being honest we know little of those fighting the Assad regime, made up as they are of Islamists and others, united in knowing what they are against but without a common, shared vision for the future.  And it is little wonder that Syrian Christians are scared of whatever the outcome may be.

It makes for difficult reading, but the tragic story one teenage Christian Syria leaves little to the imagination about the rebel forces in the country. The website of Barnabas Fund explains:

“The tragic sufferings of Mariam (15) from al-Qusair have only just come to light but happened during the rebel occupation of the town, which was recaptured by the Syrian army at the beginning of June.

“Mariam was seized by militants linked to the al-Nusra Front (AKA Jabhat al-Nusra), which has become one of the leading rebel groups fighting against President Bashar al-Assad. Her family managed to escape the town.

“One of the Islamists “married” and raped the 15-year-old before repudiating her. The following day, she was forced to marry another militant who also raped her and then repudiated her. Mariam was repeatedly subjected to this terrifying ordeal by different men for 15 days, leaving her psychologically disturbed.

“The militants eventually killed the Christian teenager.”

And yet, despite such atrocities and the deafening sounds on our TVs of parents crying over the loss of their children, many Christians remain determined and strengthened by their faith to reach out to those in pain and to sow seeds of forgiveness, in the remberence of 1 John 4 in the bible which declares, that “if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” As one Pastor in Syria has written:

“While revenge, power and hatred are the worshiped gods and the highest values in a dirty sectarian political fight, by God’s grace we are sowing the seeds of love and forgiveness. “

And so as world leaders consider the prospects of military intervention in a country that has become a focal point for almost every global conflict imaginable, they should do so not in an attempt to take sides, but to protect those squeezed between the rebels and the government – Christians for whom neither side provides them with any sense of confidence.

Military intervention is now desperately needed to protect the innocent and bring to an end the carnage that has inflicted the country for too long, but it must be an intervention for the right reasons protecting the right people.

With that in mind, the question now is just how many more children must find themselves in body bags at the hands of the Assad regime before the West acts? How many more innocent children must find themselves being raped by the rebels we have too closely aligned ourselves with? How much more wailing and crying must we hear on our radios and TV screens?

When Christians across Syria can proclaim the gospel without fear for their lives, and are able to speak openly about the promise in the book of Revelations of that place where there “will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain” then, and only then will we be able to say with any confidence that the Middle East has been truly and fundamentally changed for the better.

Barack Obama’s second book was entitled “The Audacity of Hope”. In preparing for military action it is giving all the people of Syria the audacity of hope that should be the yard stick by which we measure success or failure.

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