“It began in a bakery,” recalled “Dina” from Syria. Two of her brothers were queuing to buy bread when they were killed in a drive-by shooting. The occupants of the car that had sped past, firing at the bakery, were terrorists from the Jabat al-Nusra rebel group. They drove on to the village where Dina lived with her husband and two children. Shooting and plundering as they went, the terrorists entered every home, gathered the Christians together and told them to leave and never come back, or they would be killed and their children raped.
“They said they would kill me if I didn’t convert”
When “Luko’s” father died ten years ago, he and his mother were left without an adult male to protect and provide for them. That was hard enough in Middle Eastern society, but Luko tried his best to earn money while he continued his studies. But when the Syrian civil war began, their circumstances changed from difficult to dangerous, because of their Christian faith. “We live in fear in every situation ... Because of our religion we live in fear because we are a target for extremists,” said Luko.
“We try to get along with people from other religions, but we are always watching our backs,” continued Luko. “I have been targeted and chased from my school by some young people, they asked me to withdraw because I am a Christian. They ended up saying that they would kill me if I didn’t convert.
“I attempted to avoid them at all costs; it reached to extremes when they followed me home and began kicking at my door, saying that they were going to kill my mother and me.”
Luko and his mother shouted their defiance but quickly the street filled with militants, who forced their way into Luko’s home, threw all their property into the street, and finally threw out Luko and his mother too.
“We want to never be attacked because of being a widow and a Christian”
Luko and his mother yearned to escape. Luko, by this time at university, longed to continue his studies and graduate. “We want to never be attacked because of being a widow and a Christian,” he said.
78 air tickets issued since March – praise God
Dina and family, Luko and his mother, are amongst many Middle Eastern Christians whom Barnabas Fund is enabling to re-settle in Australia, by helping with their airfares. This is the mission of our Operation Safe Havens – to rescue desperate Christians, suffering extreme persecution, and bring them to places of safety and freedom.
In March, we set ourselves a prayerful target of issuing 100 air tickets in the next three months to bring persecuted Middle Eastern Christians to Australia. As of 16 May, the total number of tickets issued was 78. Barnabas Fund is thankful to God, to the generosity of our supporters and to the wisdom of the Australian government for this excellent progress.
Just 22 more and we will reach our initial target! The typical cost of a ticket is £675 ($900; €790).
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