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A letter from Syria

George distributes Bibles in Syria and writes personally about his life and work

When I’m writing this letter, I can tell you that the weather is beautiful. It’s the time of the year when the temperature is just right, but in the evening we start feeling the chill in our houses and all the ladies will have started cleaning, not only the floors of the houses in Aleppo, but also the walls.

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Are things going back to normal?

And maybe this is the year that the paint has started showing its age and it’s time for a new coat of glossy or half-glossy paint on our walls. It’s got to be real paint and not emulsion! It won’t be long before the husband, in this case me, will get the heater down from the attic or up from some hideout in the cellar. Soon our homes in the evening will be as “hot” as during the hot summers in Aleppo, and our bedrooms will be colder than a Norwegian bedroom during their winter, spring, summer and autumn. Yes, it’s time for a change and we are getting prepared.

So are things going back to normal? Maybe the only thing that is normal is the way we are trying to keep our home-life the way it was during those good old years! But when we look at one another we realise that so much has changed. You cannot blame people for being negative, as nobody was prepared for the tremendous changes that each Syrian’s been going through.

In some buildings, like ours, some neighbours, who had also become very close friends, are gone and their apartments are empty. In other buildings total strangers have arrived and in some cases they and the original inhabitants are building walls around themselves instead of opening up to one another. Yes, do we know where to go from here?

In all of this at the Bible Society in Syria we are trying to open up to “all.” This is quite a statement! What we really want to say is that we are Syrians and when you look at the ethnic and religious background of the Syrians you will find a mosaic of communities and religions. We can limit ourselves to some of those communities and especially communities that we feel familiar with. But this is not what Jesus Christ asks us to do! And it’s not what the Bible Society wants us to do. So when Jesus tells us to Go Out … ! What can we say? So this is what we have tried to do.

The encouraging thing is that so many people have not only welcomed us “to Go Out,” but they’ve gone with us and “our circle” is becoming wider and wider. It’s exciting to live in a world, which we had only tasted before!

How difficult it’s been to relearn that God looks at humans in a totally different way from us. How challenging it is to understand that God in Jesus called himself “Son of Man.” Yes, he did use “Son of God” a few times, but most of all he talked about himself as Son of Man, and the miracle is that God became our Emmanuel in Jesus, “God with us!”

The needs are only surpassed by the opportunities!

So how can we close ourselves in without becoming a “man” with other “men”? It shouldn’t be a mystery, but through our lives and mostly because of our fears and anxieties we have made our circle of family, friends, church and acquaintances so very small, and all in all it’s been to protect ourselves. But now we are working on breaking down our own walls and really living like men among men.

Personally I think our Trauma Healing Programs might have done more to break down the walls and open new doors than anything else we have ever tried to do. Suddenly we have allowed our hearts to link up with others and we have realised that our heartbeats are very similar to those of others.

It’s been an intensive year for us with big Scripture distributions. So far the Easter distribution was the biggest ever, and would you believe me if I tell you that the Christmas distribution will be even bigger? Everything is packed and ready and in a few days we will start dispatching these treasures to recipients all over our country. Some of these Scriptures we will have the privilege of distributing together with the churches, while most of the Scriptures will be handed out by volunteers all over this country. We believe that God will speak to people’s hearts through each piece of Scripture. God speaks through his word! Hallelujah!

Looking back on the year 2019 makes me scared even thinking what next year will be. If things develop this way with so many open doors and torn-down walls we will never have a minute to rest. The needs are only surpassed by the opportunities! Pray that we will be able to choose the best way forward and not the good way!

Thanks for being there with us right through the years. We couldn’t have done anything without your prayers and support!

In Jesus, George and the Bible Society in Syria.

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