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16th February 2023

SAT-7 ARABIC program You Are Not Alone offered comfort and prayer to Syrian viewers in the wake of the earthquakes. Families and church leaders who were impacted appeared as guests to share their stories and provide hope for moving forward.

The program, presented by Sirene Semerdjian, dedicated a full episode to sharing fellowship with earthquake survivors in Syria. Syrian churches have opened their doors to anyone seeking refuge and nourishment, and their leaders are offering hope amidst the humanitarian tragedy.

Showing God’s Love

“We are watching what is happening to the Syrian and Turkish peoples and find ourselves speechless; words fail,” Semerdjian told a Syrian family. “We don’t know how to share our condolences with you and console you, so we’ve surrendered this episode to God so He may speak to you through us.” People are reeling from the psychological trauma of having experienced a sudden natural disaster, following an epidemic and experiencing an ongoing state of war and a crippled economy.

Program guests included church worker David Sousan, who was joined by Syrian survivors who have sought refuge at the Union of the Armenian Evangelical Church in Aleppo. According to Sousan, people are struggling to meet essential needs, such as food, shelter, medication, baby milk, and diapers.

While a large number of local people are in churches and dedicated shelters, some are on the freezing cold streets with nowhere to go, and still others are in homes that may collapse any second.

Describing the psychological consequences of the earthquake, the Maraashli family said, “Now when we see water inside a bottle move, we feel terrified. We don’t know how we will live after this point.” The Daali family added that the shock would take a long time to heal.

Prayer Brings Hope

Yet God’s awesome grace was also evident in these stories. Small miracles took place that saved lives. Five minutes before the earthquake, the Maraashli family’s daughter came to her parents’ room. Had she stayed in her bed she would have sustained critical injuries from a closet that fell over.

Guests repeatedly insisted that before the much-needed practical and financial support, what is required of viewers is prayer.

The Daali family jumped at the opportunity to lead the viewers in prayer. They thanked God for His love, provision, and presence amongst the people, and asked for His presence with humanitarian workers and people who are under the rubble. They prayed in the name of Jesus for the healing of the injured.

The program interviewed Ali Saifeldeen, a Lebanese civil defence volunteer who is part of a rescue team of 72 members currently serving in Lattakia. Saifeldeen described the severity of the destruction and the sheer difficulty of locating and recovering bodies.

A Test of Faith

The episode concluded powerfully with an interview with the Rev. Ibrahim Nseir, Vice President of the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon and Pastor of the Presbyterian Church in Aleppo.

Immediately after the quake, Nseir and his family ran out of their unaffected house to lead people to safety. Now his church is drawing on a wealth of experience in community service to give shelter to people of all faiths. They are serving food and drinks to survivors in government-created shelters, serving as physical vessels for God’s presence amongst those in need. Nseir said:

Christ said, ‘I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink; I needed clothes and you did not clothe me.’ They said, ‘Lord, when did we see you and not help?’ He said, ‘Whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ (Matt. 25: 42-45)

Nseir adds, “Right now, faith is being tested in every sense. We either serve everyone or there is no meaning to this spiritual inheritance we carry with us if it fails to impact positively on society.”

He advised viewers to respond to the crisis and give generously, sharing what they have without any deference to politics, so that everyone may see their good deeds and glorify God in heaven.

The Gospel Healing Hearts

Semerdjian concluded the episode by asking Nseir to share a message addressing those who feel grieved, hopeless, and desperate.

“Remember Christ’s words on the cross, when he screamed and said, ‘Abba, why did you forsake me?’ It is not wrong to ask God why this is happening,” Nseir said.

“This life is a mystery; it is a mirage. One day we will see God face to face and then we will be able to know why we faced this reality. We are Christ’s companions in difficulty so that we will be His companions in the resurrection, God willing.”

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