Over the past couple of days we have had several people attending our lunch and language program who are from the Syrian city of Aleppo. Some are Kurdish and some are Arabic. Aleppo is in Northern Syria, close to the border with Turkey and the fighting has been particularly strong there. One man encouraged me to watch videos on you-tube which showed the before and after footage. It is a remarkable contrast. (See picture above.) What had been one of the largest cities in the middle east and one of the oldest continuously occupied cities in the world was been reduced to a smoldering rubble. Hundreds of thousands of civilians have fled for refuge elsewhere.
Pre-war Aleppo had a thriving Christian community. Although I have not yet met a Christian from Aleppo, I understand that the Christians have been particularly hard hit. It is hard for me to imagine the extent of their suffering.
Aleppo is a prime example for not only the devastation of war, but also the confusion of war. Currently the city is occupied partly by government forces and partly by the Syrian Free army - a rebel force that is also in conflict with ISIS. Internet reports indicate that the rebel forces have fought with each other there. It is not easy for the Syrian refugees to understand the source of the conflict in their country.
I recently spoke with a man from Aleppo who has good English. He had a good job and a promising future. The war took everything away. His wife and 8 month-old daughter are still in Syria and he is trying to be relocated into a European country so that he can bring them to a new place. He told me, "Sometimes I think to myself: who has done this to my country? I do not understand why it has happened. Some days I wake up in the morning and I hope that all of this has been a bad dream. But it is not." He told me that he named his daughter "Salem", which means "peace" in Arabic. He hopes that her name points to a better and brighter future for his country.
Pray for peace in Syria and pray that the Prince of Peace would extend his rule into this troubled land.
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Matt Koerber is the senior pastor at City Reformed Presbyterian church. This is his personal blog that he also asks guest writers to participate on.