A SAT-7 children’s show visiting Syria found churches full of displaced people learning about Jesus for the first time.
Almost a thousand children – including hundreds from non-Christian backgrounds – gathered in the Syrian cities of Tartus, Bloudan, and As-Suwayda to meet presenter Mina Awny and the SAT-7 production team of Family of Jesus. The popular children’s show mixes music, teaching and prayer to encourage lonely children and teach them biblical values.
In Bloudan, they met 200 children, many of whom had fled their devastated hometown of Al-Zabadani nearby. The children’s families had taken shelter in vacant holiday homes. In the dead of winter, they survived a 20-day siege by rebels without gas for heating or cooking, sharing what little fruits and vegetables were left over in their gardens. Residents flocked to local churches, filling the pews.
“The children in Bloudan were so excited and happy to see us,” Mina said. “They didn’t want to leave, but the church leaders made them go straight after the service for their safety.”
Hungry for God’s word
The congregation in As-Suwayda was almost entirely drawn from other areas and from beyond the Christian community. After the majority of Christians fled, the congregation has been replaced by members of the Druze population. Over two days, Mina and the Family of Jesus team sang, prayed and filmed with 300 children. Afterwards, they divided them into small groups to discuss their personal and spiritual concerns. “The children are so thirsty and hungry for the word of God,” Mina said.
In Tartus, the team filmed at a small church that has been using all its resources to do as much as it can for families in need. “The original church is only a few families, making up to about 80 people,” Mina said. “But now it is crowded with new believers.”
Ninety per cent of the people in the city are Alawite and a large number of local Alawites have embraced the Gospel since the church showed them practical concern and love during the conflict. Here around four hundred children came to join in the Family of Jesus programme.
“What’s happening in Syria now is exceptional,” Mina said. “The numbers of people coming to Christ is beyond anything we had imagined. It was a shock to see the huge numbers flocking to the churches.”
Facing death without fear
Quoting the words of Jesus in Luke 10:2, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few”, Mina said there is a great need for servants to minister to these hurting and hungry people.
Responding to the children’s thirst for the Word of God, members of the SAT-7 team explained how to accept Jesus just as Zacchaeus had accepted Jesus in his home. They also taught the miracle of Jesus calming the storm, to stress the fact that Jesus is in control despite everything happening in Syria.
Although the three churches are in areas declared safe, they are still subject to raids and air strikes. Rebel forces remain close to As-Suwayda and checkpoints are stationed along all the routes between cities. “They are carrying on their lives despite everything,” Mina commented. “They face death but aren’t afraid.”
Family of Jesus is normally filmed live in SAT-7’s Cairo studios from where the programme seeks to bring joy and love into the lives of children across the region. But Mina said “being in Syria in the middle of things” enabled him to see firsthand the suffering and concerns of many of the show’s viewers.
“This was a precious time,” Mina reflected.
Pray for Syria’s new believers
Please give thanks for what God is doing among the congregations in Tartus, Bloudan and As-Suwayda. Ask Him to equip and strengthen mature Christians as they serve and answer the questions of people who have never attended churches before. Pray that God will provide the practical and spiritual resources they need, and that He will bring healing and joy to new believers despite the traumas many have experienced.