From Aid to the Church In Need:
Yesterday Aid to the Church in Need received an urgent message with the awful news that the terrorist group calling itself IS (Islamic State) has seized Christian villages in Hassake governorate, north-east Syria and that more than 100 people have been taken captive.
Around midnight last night, Archimandrite Emanuel Youkhana, who is helping persecuted Christians in the region, received an update from a contact in the city, which he relayed to us this morning. In brief, he tells us that 24 families from Tel Gouran, 34 families from Tel Jazira, and 14 fighters (12 male and two females) from Tel Hormizd have been captured and taken to the Arab Sunni village of Um Al-Masamier.
We don’t have the actual number of people as yet, but we do know that most of them are alive although, chillingly, the men have been separated from women and children.
Archimandrite Youkhana tells us that more than 50 families in Tel Shamiran are still surrounded and it is unclear if IS will attack the village.
To add to the tension, in Tel Tamar there has been a car bomb explosion as well as sporadic mortar fire into Tel Nasri from across the Khabour River. No casualties have been reported.
Obviously the situation is changing on an hourly basis, but you may like to read a fuller account of the information we have.
This is a very frightening situation for the families taken captive and all Christians in outlying villages.
When it comes to securing the release of the hostages and the safety of the Christian community we might feel helpless.
However, it is within our power to join together in prayer and, strong in collective faith and goodwill, to ask the Holy Spirit to sow seeds of mercy in the hearts of the jihadists.
A few weeks ago we received a wonderful prayer from Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregorios III of Damascus. In it he asks us to Light a Candle for peace and hope in Syria.
Will you help us join with him this weekend by lighting a candle in your church and pray most earnestly for the safe release of these innocent captives and also for Christ’s abiding peace in Syria, Iraq and the Middle East.
Thanks to you, last week ACN was able to rush through 22 projects offering emergency help − fuel, food, medicine − and pastoral help for families in Hassake, Aleppo, Damascus and the surrounding countryside.
In the coming days, we will assess the urgent help required in this new emergency.
Thank you for your loyal and incredibly important solidarity in these difficult times.
You can learn more, find out how to support ACN, or donate here.
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