Photo: World Renew
Photo by World Renew

Six years ago armed groups kidnapped Martiza’s husband. She never saw him again. As a mother of three children in war-torn Syria, uncertainty has become a regular part of Martiza’s life. In the midst of this crisis, however, World Renew has been a consistent presence, offering a measure of peace by providing support to vulnerable families.

For Martiza and millions of other people in Syria and the surrounding region, little changed when the calendar flipped from 2018 to 2019. War paid no attention. These people remain caught in the crossfire of political disputes that show no signs of ceasing.

This March the Syrian Civil War will enter its ninth year. The anniversary marks eight years of fighting that has forever changed millions of lives; 96 months of relentless conflict, leaving countless homes in rubble; 2,920 days of waking up in a foreign place, wishing that things would just go back to the way they used to be, but knowing that may never happen.

For many young Syrians, war is all they have ever known. For their parents, countless days have been filled with uncertainty. Will there be enough money to afford to eat next month? Are we finally in a safe place, or will we have to move again? Are my children getting the education they need?

After her husband was kidnapped, for example, Martiza had to make a difficult choice to protect her children.

She fled her home, taking refuge in a nearby town. But the burden of raising three children alone was enormous. She decided to remarry, in hopes that a new husband would help save her kids from living on the streets.

But her new husband did not have a stable income, and in frustration he often took out his anger on her children. He forced Martiza’s 12-year-old son to leave school to work to support their family.

Despite repeated attempts to change her husband’s mind, Martiza was unable to do so. Desperate for her children to have a brighter future, she had few places to turn.

In the midst of her growing sense of hopelessness, Martiza heard about a local church that was helping people in need. She went to the church and shared her story with the pastor.

After hearing Martiza’s story and visiting her children, the pastor arranged for them to receive a basket of food each month. The support that Martiza received is part of a much larger World Renew response.

“This food basket is essential for my kids because it has the main nutritious needs for them to grow,” said Martiza. “The importance of this food basket goes beyond its nutritious value. It helped my son go back to school, and it helped improve my husband’s temper in dealing with my children. Thank you for your generosity.”

Since 2012 this incredible generosity has enabled World Renew to help many such families in need. With matching funds from the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, $13.8 million in support has reached over 204,000 people affected by the Syrian Civil War.

This is possible because of the hard work and commitment of many local churches that work together with World Renew’s humanitarian partner, Middle East Revive and Thrive (MERATH). On the front lines, these churches offer assistance to vulnerable families regardless of their faith background. In this way a glimpse of the love of Christ is shared amid the horrors of war.

In fact, 12,830 people today throughout Syria and Lebanon are receiving much needed emergency assistance through World Renew and its local church partners. In Syria, hundreds of families receive food each month, ensuring that parents can put food on the table each night.

In Lebanon, families receive monthly vouchers, allowing them to visit local stores to purchase what they need most. In addition, 1,380 Syrian refugees in Lebanon are receiving milk and diapers for their young children.

As the Syrian Civil War continues, with few signs that it will stop soon, humanitarian needs will only continue to increase.

Let us pray fervently that the war will soon end, and that the millions of Syrians who live in daily uncertainty might be able to return to a life of peace.

Canadian Christian Reformed churches are encouraged to hold an offering for World Renew on March 3, designated as CFGB Sunday. Your generous gifts will enable World Renew’s humanitarian work in Syria and Lebanon to continue.