Representatives from churches around the world have been meeting in Lebanon this week to consult with and give support to churches working to bring about relief and peace in Syria.
The Presbyterian Church in Ireland is represented by its board of mission overseas convenor the Rev Cheryl Meban at consultations organised by the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon (NESSL).
The five-day conference is discussing the changing situation in the region, including Christian and Muslim relations; NESSL’s relief programme to help those suffering as a result of the ongoing conflict in Syria; NESSL’s vision for the future; and how NESSL partners can support the church in the region at this time.
The Rev Fadi Dagher, NESSL general secretary, said: “ As events escalate, and for a fear of darker days to come, NESSL made the decision to call for a consultation with our partner churches. Our aim is to consult and exchange ideas for even more effective future service, especially now that the number of those being effected is getting larger by the day and the church is being urged to intensify its ministry to reach out to as many as possible.”
NESSL has for two years been responding to the needs of many Syrians displaced from their homes helping them with cash to buy food, medicine, hygiene material and paying rent for temporary accommodation.
The Rev Dagher, referring to the Syrian church’s autumn relief programme that benefitted 3,000 families, thanked partner churches including the Irish Presbyterian Church for financial and payer support. “Many of you have responded and helped us carry on this ministry for which we praise God,” he said.
By consulting with partners globally, NESSL hopes to learn from their experience and further develop its own unique ministry in both Syria and Lebanon. It hopes to find help in clarifying its role as a peacemaker and advocate of reconciliation. It is also seeking to identify the specific challenges for the Christian church in this situation and how it can meet those.
“Presbyterians in Ireland have been very generous in their financial giving and commitment to pray for Syria, supporting the relief work going on and encouraging the ministry of local churches,” said the Rev Cheryl Meban. “I hope my presence here this week has added to that and, as a church, we will continue sharing experiences, exploring what further help is needed and discussing how we may be able to play our part practically in supporting the ministry of our fellow Christians.”
Earlier this month, Presbyterian Moderator the Rev Dr Rob Craig thanked Presbyterians for their generous financial support for relief programmes in Syria. Through a Moderator’s appeal, £150,000 was donated to NESSL, Tearfund and Christian Aid.
“Presbyterian generosity never ceases to amaze,” said Dr Craig. “Our church members respond magnificently when they see their fellow human beings in need, whatever the reason. I would thank everyone for donations and also for prayers for those affected.”