Over the past five years, more than 4.1 million Syrians have fled their homeland, seeking refuge in neighboring countries as well as Europe. Nearly 8 million Syrians have been internally displaced. We are witnessing the largest forced migration since World War II — what has been called “the biggest humanitarian emergency of our era.”
Christ’s teachings on neighbor and love confront us as Christians living in the United States as we struggle with how to respond. From the mass drownings in the Mediterranean to the suffocation of 71 refugees in the back of a truck to the image of a dead Syrian toddler washed up on a Turkish beach, we are experiencing the weight of this crisis on our souls.
Below are prayers offered by CBF field personnel Joshua Hearne and CBF Church Engagement Manager Ryan Clark. While there are and will be many more opportunities to give and serve, we invite you now to join together as we pray.
A Collect for the Refugees of the Syrian Civil War:
Lord God, who fled his home with his family on a wave of violence and death, guard and protect the refugees of the Syrian Civil War in order that the whole world might know you are the God of the dispossessed and persecuted. We pray this in the name of our crucified Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.
A Prayer for CBF Field Personnel Serving among Syrian Refugees:
Dear God, we lift up to you all the missionaries and servants of Christ who bear witness to you. For those serving with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship among Syrian refugees, we pray:
For Janée Angel and her husband, Hary who pastor among Syrian immigrants in Belgium, where they have welcomed strangers into their home and opened wide the doors of their church. Still, there are too many refugees whose housing is tents and winter is coming.
For Chaouki and Maha Boulos, who have been sharing the Gospel in Lebanon for 13 years, leading groups of volunteers to feed nearly 500 Syrian refugees. For their women’s prayer groups, which continue to attract new believers and continue to grow as a result of their outreach.
For field personnel working in the Middle East who cannot be named due to safety concerns and whose acts of courage will go largely untold. They minister among many fleeing widows with children whose husbands and fathers will never catch up. They will continue to pray and distribute rice and heaters in hopes of lowering the infant mortality rate.
For Alicia and Jeff Lee serving in Macedonia who are answering the call to refocus their work on the border. Their tiny country is sandwiched between Greece and Serbia. Pray for refugees having to travel through Macedonia as they try to reach welcoming countries. Lift up the Lees as they embrace weary and grieving souls entering the United Nations camps.
Bless these Lord, and all those who love neighbor as self and seek your Kingdom now on Earth as it is in heaven.
A Longer Prayer for the Refugees of the Syrian Civil War:
Lord, it is you who has taught us to be a people that welcome the stranger and the refugee into our lives, knowing that, in doing so, we may be a host to your messengers.
It was you who instructed the people of Israel not only to do no wrong to the sojourner in their midst, but to treat them as one of their own, reminding them that they too were once strangers in the land of Egypt.
It was you who called Abram out of Ur into a land that was not his own because of a promise you had for him and for the whole world through him.
It was you who not only promised, but also brought about the redemption of your people from captivity in Babylon, setting them free and returning them to their homes.
It was you who taught us that what we do for the “least of these our brothers and sisters,” we do also for you.
Hear now our heartfelt prayers for the many people who flee war in Syria to take refuge in a land that is not their own. Renew the strength of the hospitable ones who welcome them in and offer them your love. Guide the hands of the servants who, through acts of mercy small and large, care for your wandering people. Fill the minds of those who must make difficult decisions with your admonition to “love your neighbor as yourself.”
In all places of desperation and anxiety, may your perfect love blossom and cast out fear.
We call upon you, God of the stranger, to work justice and peace in the midst of fear and death. Give us the words to say and the silences to keep so that your love might shine vibrantly before a world that is eager to forget that we are all strangers searching for a home.
A Litany for the Refugees of the Syrian Civil War:
God, who “shelters us in the day of trouble,” we pray for those who are called refugees.
May they find their refuge under the cover of your tent.
God, who is the friend of the stranger and the wanderer, we pray for peace for those who have fled war.
May they find shelter beneath your wings.
God, who is “a shelter from the storm,” we pray for the health of those who have left shelter.
May they find safety in the shade of your loving hand.
God, who is our refuge and strength, we pray for those who are uncertain where they may find a home.
May they find you to be “a very present help in trouble.”
God, who is the guard of the oppressed and persecuted, we pray that the violence of Syria —the violence of the whole world — comes to an end.
May we beat our swords into plowshares and our spears into pruning hooks.
God, who promises the end of oppression, war and destruction, we pray that we might be a people characterized by our love for “the least of these, our brothers and sisters.”
May we see your face in the face of the stranger.
Come quickly Lord Jesus,
Download a PDF version of these prayers here.