Despite the recent turmoil in much of the Middle East, a group of Presbyterian young adults, primarily from Syria, gathered in fellowship at the Dhour Choueir Conference Center, a ministry of the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon, from Oct. 31-Nov. 3.
Proverbs 8: 1 ― “Does not wisdom call out? Does not understanding raise her voice?” ― inspired the theme of the conference. Topics presented and discussed revolved around:
- Languages and types of love
Participants also shared their prevailing experiences during the crisis in Syria, which include joblessness, uncertainty, and fear of what the future holds. Half of the participants shared that they recently lost their jobs and are searching for other opportunities. Some decided to quit their jobs, due to their employer’s dangerous location.
For the same reason, many companies and institutions have closed, which leaves younger people with fewer options and a heightened sense of insecurity. Many in the group hope that the current conflict will soon reach an end. The rest are seeking a way out of Syria, through visas or jobs in foreign countries.
Despite the collective feeling of fear, there was a group of participants who believed greatly in the important role that Christians can play in such circumstances. “It is a chance to prove that we are committed followers of Jesus Christ, who proclaim the good news to all the weary and the oppressed,” said Amer, who has just finished his university degree.
Amer’s comment raised a very thought-provoking question: “Do we leave like the disciples from Jerusalem through the road of Emmaus, or do we learn from Jesus how to make a difference around us?” It is a challenging question, especially for the young adults who live in a constant state of danger.
Endless conversations and discussions took place around the gathering. How do we view the current situation? What will happen in the coming future? On the other hand, the young people here were able to dream and hope for better futures, careers, and personal lives. They were really engaged in the different topics and expressed their opinions freely.
The conversations seemed to be therapeutic; they helped participants release their fears, and gain a sense of support and solidarity. Despite the difficulties, young people insist on keeping the dream of a peaceful and prosperous country alive.
It was very helpful for the majority of the participants to be part of this retreat, where they lived together as church and had a strong feeling of fellowship. By the end of the conference, all of their worries were brought before God, asking for His will to be done.
Gladys Abboud is a 2011 graduate of the Near East School of Theology with a Masters degree in Christian Education. She now works for the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon in the publication and media department.