By Sarah Adams, former MCC Representative for Lebanon and Syria. Sarah recently completed a speaking tour through parts of Canada.
I have just finished four and half years as the MCC Representative for Lebanon and Syria. The change I witnessed in the region during the last few years has been nothing short of remarkable. The pain and suffering of the millions of displaced and traumatized people has often left me without words. Yet, in the face of such tragedy, I have seen hope and thanksgiving and selflessness beyond measure.
I had the privilege to walk alongside individuals and communities responding to the on-going emergency. They chose non-violence in the face of a raging civil conflict, working together instead of being driven apart, faith instead of anger, hope instead of despair.
As I said my farewells, I was regularly met with two requests:
The first request was a simple one: “Remember to pray for us.”
There is trust that God’s mercy and love can prevail, even in the face of destruction and dehumanizing violence. Even when warring sides and foreign influences make the conflict feel inescapable, God offers the hope of peace.
The second request was more complicated: “We need the world’s help to end this conflict. Do what you can to let people know what’s happening in Syria, and ask those in power to help us find a way forward.”
The Syrian conflict has grown beyond the Syrian borders and the Syrian people. External influences are at play in many ways—some directly through the provision of weapons, fighters, and other equipment on the ground. The United Nations seems to be paralyzed in its ability to help mediate an end to the conflict.
Earlier this month, I was able to join our partners’ requests for advocacy along with my daily prayers for Syria. During a visit to the MCC office in Ottawa, I shared some of the experiences of our partners in Syria with leaders in the Canadian government.
In a series of meetings with both elected officials and civil servants, I was able to answer questions about MCC’s response to the conflict, and to highlight the important humanitarian and peace building efforts happening both within Syria and among refugee communities in the surrounding countries.
I sensed a real compassion for the suffering of Syrians and a sincere desire among those we met to see this conflict come to an end. Indeed, the humanitarian assistance provided thus far by Canada and other countries has been significant, even as that assistance needs to accelerate in order to match the urgent and growing needs in the region.
The conflict in Syria will require prayers and efforts from people around the world to find a lasting resolution. On behalf of MCC’s partners in Syria, I ask you to add your prayers to the chorus of calls for peace. I also invite you to reflect on the role of the global community and to call on your elected officials to seek new channels of dialogue and international cooperation to end the conflict in Syria.