The news reports coming out of Aleppo, a city in northern Syria, are impossible to ignore.
Syria’s civil war has been waged in this ancient city for the past four years, marking one of the longest sieges in modern warfare. And while the details of the struggle may be difficult to understand, one thing is certain: the residents of Aleppo are paying a horrific price.
There are reports by the United Nations that Aleppo, which contains the country’s largest population of Christians, is seeing many atrocities being committed “against a large number of civilians.”
There are reports of “barrel bombs” being indiscriminately dropped from aircraft. (These are barrels filled with high explosives and a mix of shrapnel, chemicals, and oil.) Amnesty International reports 3,000 civilians were killed by barrel bombs in Aleppo in 2014 alone.
The International Red Cross has said the city is on the brink of a humanitarian crisis, CNN reports. World Vision U.S. President Rich Stearns says, “the families and children of Aleppo are literally being massacred.”
No wonder as many as 100,000 residents have fled what was once Syria’s largest city.
Our friends at the ERLC (the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission) have a good sumary on Aleppo that further expands on the history and details of the crisis. One thing that will jump out when you read it: children are being inordinately affected by the struggle because Aleppo is a city with a very young population. By some estimates, about 40 percent of the besieged population are children.
The situation is so big and complicated it’s hard to know how to help.
And yet, dare we look away?
We must not.
So here are two things you can do right now to help the children, the people of Aleppo.
Plead with God and ask Him for mercy. Pray that the families and children who are stuck in the city can find a way to safely escape. Pray the Gospel reaches the people in need with salvation and hope. Pray for the good men and women putting their own lives in danger to help these people. Pray for wisdom for the leaders of the world, that somehow they can help put an end to this conflict and death.
Research carefully to see what groups and organizations you can support with your money, prayers, and efforts to raise awareness. One group providing practical help on-the-ground is World Vision. The group is planning to provide winter supplies, clean water and sanitation services, and health clinics.
As we prepare for Christmas and enjoy the blessings of peace in our country, I hope we won’t forget the suffering of image-bearers in Aleppo. Instead, it is my prayer we can echo the plea of the late Bob Pierce, founder of World Vision: “Let my heart be broken with the things that break the heart of God.”
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