When the powerless pray
There is one group in Syria that has a particularly tragic history, the Kurds.
They are the largest people group without a country. As well as in Syria, there are Kurds living in Iran, Iraq and Turkey. Only in Iraq do they have a degree of autonomy. The province they live in, Kurdistan, has been recognised as the land of the Kurds only by Israel.
Out of all Middle Eastern Muslim people groups, the Kurds are perhaps the most moderate in their Islamic beliefs and tolerant to other faiths. They are also the most pro-Israel and have been a reliable ally of the United States in the war against ISIS. The Kurdish army in Syria is known for its bravery, and like the Israeli army, both male and female soldiers fight side by side.
The Kurds have suffered a lot of persecution and discrimination through the centuries. Oftentimes they were not even allowed to speak their own language. Now that Turkey is taking control of Northern Syria, hundreds of thousands of Kurds have fled once more. But where can they go?
1,5 million Kurds live in diaspora, outside of the Middle East. One million of those live in Europe, and there are particularly large communities in Germany. For them, their people once more being abandoned to their enemies, in this case the Turks, has been a crushing blow. Miles away from their families and friends, there is little they can do.
There is a growing number of Kurds living in Europe who have become Christians. Often because throughout their long journey to safety, it was Christians who helped them along, giving food, providing housing, helping with finances and legal matters. As a rejected people, they saw that the love of Jesus Christ for them, through the life of his church. That is the kind of love that can change things.
That kind of love shares in people’s pain. When a few Dutch Back to Jerusalem friends and other believers involved with helping refugees, heard that the Turkish army had invaded Northern Syria, they came together to pray especially for the Kurds. Unexpectedly, Kurdish refugees wanted to join. Sixteen came, all but one were Muslims. They were united in desperation and grieve, as they saw on the news how Northers Syria was under attack once more and their family and friends were being bombed.
Together they cried, prayed and read the words of Psalm 142 in Dutch, Arabic and Kurdish:
“Look and see, there is no one at my right hand; no one is concerned for me. I have no refuge; no one cares for my life. I cry to you, Lord; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.” Listen to my cry, for I am in desperate need; rescue me from those who pursue me, for they are too strong for me.
After people had finished praying, the Dutch believers sang the words of psalm 42 for them, using the traditional Dutch Psalter: My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me all day long, “Where is your God?” My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you from the land of the Jordan, the heights of Hermon (which is on the border of Syria) —from Mount Mizar. Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me. By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me— a prayer to the God of my life.
It is one example of how God unites believers in prayers, to bring comfort to the suffering and testify of the love of God for the Kurds of Syria. In our powerlessness, he can work powerfully.
We pray for all the Kurds in the diaspora. For those who suffer from memories of war and those who worry about their families and friends. May the Kurds know your salvation.
Set me free from my prison, that I may praise your name. Then the righteous will gather about me because of your goodness to me.