As our brothers and sisters from the Orthodox communities of the Greek Diaspora, and our Romanian friends, prepare to celebrate Christmas tonight, and we in Georgia prepare for the Feast of the Nativity on January 7, we should pray for our fellow Christians in Syria who are facing persecution and martyrdom for their faith at the hands of Jihadists. Home to Christian communities from Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Melkite and Assyrian Catholic, Nestorian and Protestant congregations, over 2.5 million Christians face a very uncertain future in the geographic cradle of the Christian faith. The connection between Syria and Georgia is significant, as the Thirteen Assyrian Fathers were very significant evangelists to the Georgians during the Persian occupation of Georgia in the 6th century, and are widely venerated today for their energy in establishing new temples and monastic centres while Georgia was governed by Zoroastrians hostile to the Christian faith.
Armenia has been resettling many Syrians of Armenian descent in Yerevan as refugees, but in Georgia most Syrians living here are business migrants rather than refugees. Georgia being well acquainted with the horrors of war and internal displacement of innocent people, it is to be hoped that Immigration officials are not overzealous in excluding Christian families seeking temporary respite here.
This press release from the Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan of Homs and Hama, Mor Selwanos Boutros Alnemeh, documents the largest massacre of Christians in the Middle East of the past decade, and the near-destruction of their village. The Syriac Orthodox Church is of the Oriental Orthodox Community, in communion with the Coptic, Ethiopian and Armenian churches. Please keep these people in your prayers as you enjoy your Christmas festivities.
My brothers and sisters
The peace of the Lord be with you:
I present to you a glimpse of the events which have overtaken Sadad over the weeks since its occupation by armed men and terrorists.
1- Sadad is a small Syriac town of 15,000 people located 160 km from Damascus
2- It has 14 churches and a monastery with four priests and five halls for social activities and celebrations.
3- Most citizens are poor, because of the lack of natural resources
4- They live in the middle of the desert, and it is a harsh, dry climate, where no rain falls..
5- The number of families which immigrated to Sadad from the different villages and provinces, owning to the Syrian crisis, is 600.
6- The terrorists entered Sadad on 21-10-2013 and occupied it for a week. On 28-10-2013 they were driven out and some of them were killed.
7- 2,500 families fled Sadad because of this occupation by the terrorists. They spread out between Damascus, Homs, Fayrouza, Zaydal, Maskane, and al-Fhayle.
8- 1,500 families were held as hostages and human shields for a week, amongst them children, old men, young men, and women. Some of them fled, walking 8 km from Sadad to al-Hafer to find refuge.
9- Some were killed and some were threatened by the bullet, by strangulation, execution and with the destruction of their houses. 45 civilians were martyred including women, children and men.
10 – 10 persons have gone missing, and the number of injured is 30
11-All the homes of Sadad have been robbed, their possessions looted, by all the forces which entered Sadad. The commercial premises shared the same fate.
12- They destroyed the churches and stole some of their possessions, money and ancient books, and graphitized insults against Christianity.
All government, school, and council buildings were destroyed, along with the post office, the hospital and clinic, as well as the Finance and the Agricultural Ministry branches.
14- The crisis in Sadad led to the forced migration of some 500 families of al-Hafer, and the looting and destruction of some of their houses.
15- The families of Sadad fled from their town only in the clothes they were wearing, and anyone who brought with him money, gold or documents was robbed of them.
16- Our children have lost their future because of the destruction of the schools, the nursery, and the youth centre.
Photographs of the devastation done can be seen here via Devastating Images & Report from the Christian Town of Sadad in Syria – Exclusive – News | Orthodoxy Cognate PAGE.