Imagine living in the midst of an active war. Buildings in your city have been bombed. The military and radicals patrol the streets. People you know have been killed. You live in constant fear that something terrible might happen to your family.
A dangerous situation like this can get much worse very quickly. You aren’t sure if you’ll need to flee your home at a moment’s notice. Even worse, you’re worried of who might get left behind.
Because of the tenuous situation in your city, you share a home with your elderly parents and two young children. If explosions begin hitting your building, you aren’t sure if you can escape with all four of them. If you’re forced to, how will you choose between them?
What if that choice is taken away from you? What if you’re killed in an attack or by a stray gunshot? Who will take care of your family then? It’s all you can do to fight to stay alive and keep hope.
It’s difficult to imagine such a scenario—but this is daily life for some people, including thousands living through a civil war in Syria. The violence and oppression they face mean that many of their most vulnerable are often left behind and forgotten.
Those forgotten in the violence
All persecuted Christians in the Middle East face challenges and hardships. But there are some populations that are especially hard hit. One such population includes the elderly, widows, and orphans. These already marginalized groups are even more overlooked and forgotten.
The same hardships felt by other persecuted Christians are felt even more so by these vulnerable people. They live in poor housing in need of repair. They live without a reliable means of income. They have difficulty securing food and paying basic bills.
They’re suffering because of their beliefs and because they’re easy targets. They’re the focus of attacks by local religious groups. Their homes are bombed and they’re forced to leave their villages because of threats of violence.
Each of these individuals already had the difficult life of being a Christian in a hostile environment. The added burden of enduring civil war and not being able to provide for themselves makes things untenable. In most cases, their situation is desperate.
A generation orphaned by a civil war
One of our Help The Persecuted Field Team members, Kareem, visited a town outside of Aleppo in northern Syria. Many of the children in the near-by villages lost their parents in the on-going civil war. These orphans are struggling to find resources and hope.
“I thought what I saw during the war in Aleppo was the worst I’d ever seen,” said Kareem. “Until I visited this village. I saw children starving. Many had been left behind by their own families and were searching for food in the trees.”
Kareem and the team he leads distribute hope in the form of Emergency Relief Kits, which provides critical food supplies and spiritual development resources. The team has also created a soccer field to host local kids, many of whom are Muslim, to play. After the games, the team shares the Good News with this young, Syrian generation—open to hearing about Christ.
We’re doing our part to help these orphaned children, but there is still more to be done.
What the Bible says about forgotten populations
The Bible is very clear about God’s attitude toward the elderly, widows, and orphans—He cares for them deeply. In Psalm 82:3, God commands us to protect and care for the “weak and the fatherless.”
God hears the cries of the needy and defends the oppressed. Psalm 10:18 even goes so far as to say that he will protect them against anyone who tries to take advantage of them. It’s safe to say that God is watching out for these marginalized groups.
This truth is found throughout Scripture. It starts in Exodus when God handed down the Law to Moses and the Israelites. The biblical law had specific instructions for how to treat orphans and widows, including hard consequences for failing to live up to this responsibility.
In the New Testament, James reminds us that taking care of their needs is an integral part of our faith. Caring for those in distress is not optional for followers of Christ. Paul echoes this sentiment in his letter to Timothy. 1 Timothy 5:1-6 lays out detailed instructions for how to care for widows because it’s an important aspect for every Christian community to consider.
These verses remind us that all believers in Christ are all part of the same adoptive family. Taking responsibility to care for the orphans and widows around the world is important because they’re beloved members of God’s tribe. It’s not just our privilege, but also our obligation as disciples.
How we’re helping to remember the forgotten
Help The Persecuted seeks to assist these often-forgotten Christians. We provide food and tailored packages of support. We’re helping to rebuild their homes and making them more suitable living spaces. These are similar services provided to all persecuted Christians we serve in this area. However, this support is even more crucial for these vulnerable populations.
Your support makes this care possible. By giving to Help The Persecuted, you’re standing by not only our Christian brothers and sisters but also with those who cannot always stand up for themselves. Your gift allows us to protect and serve the elderly, orphaned, and widowed who might otherwise be abused or neglected.
Besides financial support, one of the best ways to support those affected by hardship is to pray for them. When you keep them in your prayers to God, you’re not forgetting them.
God loves all of His children and doesn’t want to see any of them fall into hardship. This is your opportunity to share that love with someone who might otherwise have none. If we don’t step in to meet their needs, who will?