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This is a story of Syria’s forgotten Christians. They have quietly endured a horrific ten-year conflagration entailing immense suffering and great loss. For over a decade the war in Syria has captured global headlines, yet popular media commentary and statements of political leaders have continually failed to acknowledge or even attempt to understand the experience of Christians caught in the conflict. Perhaps for most, the story of church persecution brings to mind ancient Christian tales of “the blood of the martyrs.” Although Christians are no longer thrown to lions in Roman coliseums, the modern persecution of Syrian Christians remains fierce and largely unknown by their brethren in the West.
The ongoing war in Syria has resulted in over half a million deaths, mass displacement of refugees, and an entire nation in upheaval. Popular media failed to understand the experience of Christians caught in the conflictEven now, though a degree of stability has returned to most of the country, debilitating US sanctions have had a strangling effect on the entire population. Since the war’s tragic beginning in 2011, print and television media have featured abundant commentary detailing the perspectives and experiences of the main players in the conflict. These include the Assad government and the rebel leaders, as well as those powers that have intervened militarily in the region, including the United States, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, Israel, and others. Rarely acknowledged, however, is the fact that this most brutal of modern Middle Eastern wars has also forever altered the presence of the two-thousand-year-old indigenous Christian community, even threatening its very existence in a land that has produced great saints, bishops, theologians, monks, and nuns.
Who are Syria’s Christians? “The disciples were first called Christians at Antioch” in Roman Syria, the Book of Acts testifies (11:26). This ancient Christian presence has been “persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Cor. 4:9). Amid changing empires, medieval wars, the conquest of Islam, the Ottoman yoke, the shifting nation-state boundaries forged during the twentieth-century world wars, and more recently the assaults of ISIS, Christ’s Church in the Middle East has endured. Far from a relic of the past discoverable only in tomes of history, the authors of this book were introduced to a vibrant community of Christians, full of evangelical love and zeal, as alive as the biblical accounts of the first century.
Wingerd, Zachary, and Brad Hoff Syria Crucified: Stories of Modern Martyrdom in an Ancient Christian Land. Ancient Faith Publishing, 2021. ISBN: 978-1955890-03-8. Amazon Buy Book