Rev Fadi Elia Dagher is the moderator of the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon and is in Belfast to attend the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland.
“In the past five years, churches have been destroyed, congregations relocated, elderly and children dead and suffering; youth injured, immigrated, lost their jobs, couldn’t continue their education.”
He was welcomed with warm applause as he stepped up to the podium to address delegates on Thursday morning. He spoke about their winter project to provide fuel to families who “lack electricity, water, cooking gas and home heating in the winter”.
They run two medical dispensaries in north and south Lebanon that supported 4,000 Syrian and Iraqi refugees in the past year.
450 refugee children are being taught in five schools across Lebanon helping “to secure children from getting lost on the streets”. The Syrian school curriculum is being taught – which offers a continuity of education for children whose families hope to return home – and also offers work opportunities for Syrian teachers.
The Synod is considering whether similar church-run education programmes should be set up within Syria in places where children can no longer attend government schools.
Rev Fadi Elia Dagher finished his speech in Belfast with a plea for continued partnership in the ministry and financial support to continue their winter, health and school projects. He hoped for a quick end to the tragedy:
“Help us to encourage our people not to immigrate but to stay in our country and proclaim the word of God and preach Christ through their actions so that this country will not be emptied of its Christian community.”