Syrian Christians request prayer for their country on the third anniversary of the abduction of two Bishops of Aleppo.
On 22nd April 2013 Bishop Yohanna Ibrahim of the Syrian Orthodox Church and Bishop Boulos Yaziji of the Greek Orthodox Church were stopped by armed militants while travelling north of Aleppo. The militants abducted the bishops and murdered their driver. A fourth Christian travelling with them escaped. They had been travelling to an area near the border with Turkey as part of negotiations for the release of two priests abducted on 9th February 2013. The fate and whereabouts of the bishops and priests remain unknown.
Marking the anniversary, the Syrian Orthodox and Greek Orthodox Patriarchs of Antioch issued a joint statement in which they appealed for the release of the bishops and called on the international community to take substantive action on their behalf.
The Patriarchs describe the plight of the bishops as ‘a miniature of the great human suffering‘ inflicted on Syria.They emphasise that Syrian Christians share the pain and uncertainty of their compatriots and, together with all Syrians of good will, are committed to working towards peace ‘based on co-existence, citizenship and moderate religious discourse‘.
The Patriarchs’ appeal comes as the latest round of peace talks in Geneva is faltering amid seemingly intractable political disagreement and escalating levels of violence in Syria. With Orthodox churches preparing to celebrate Easter (1st May), the Patriarchs note that Christians are ‘children of the Resurrection, and of Light‘, and that their hope is ultimately in their risen Lord.
Syrian Christians request prayer that:
- violence will cease, peace will be restored and the clear rule of law will be applied equally for all in every part of Syria
- all who remain abducted will know the Lord’s strength and sustaining, and that they will be released soon
- those who are bereaved will know the comfort of Jesus, and the wounded and traumatised will know His healing and presence
- the needs of the millions of Syrians who have been displaced, either internally or abroad, will be adequately met
- those engaged in peace talks will prioritise the needs of the Syrian people and not their own agendas
- all who are intent on violent means would know the Spirit’s conviction of sin and respond to the Father’s offer of new life through the work of the Son