‘Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me’ (Mt. 25:40).

Posted on October 21, 2013. Filed under: Projects | Tags: , , , |

A message to the Maronite community in the US

By Bishop Elias Sleman of the Maronite Eparchy of Latakia, Syria

I cannot find the proper words that could describe the suffering inflicted on our beloved children—all of them, in particular the little babies and the distraught widows. It is very hard to witness the suffering of innocents, especially the suffering of the little children who are at a total loss.

Human dignity is being mutilated, families disintegrated, people seeking to leave the homeland due to the extreme dangers surrounding them. Not only people’s future is at serious risk, but, more importantly, their very life as well

The basics for daily survival are getting very scarce: heating fuel is found only on the black markets and—if found—at exorbitant prices; there is no clothing. Many escaped for their lives only with what they had on, leaving everything behind to be pillaged by the militants; no blankets, no heating—there are constant power outages; daily food has to be bought at outrageous prices. There is nothing left that would allow people to stay in their villages, in their homes.

Only those who live in areas untouched by violence have stayed in their homes. But even those are constantly exposed to the risks of sniper fire, bombs, and various threats by militants. They could face their death at any moment and in any place, even in their own home. They could be killed on the road, at home by a bomb, by a rocket, or by sniper fire. Death is a real threat and fear is their daily companion; there is thievery; and kidnappings seeking to extort money are a common occurrence; and even after the ransoms have been paid, the kidnapped are executed. Everyone feels exposed to all these dangers.

Our people used to live comfortably, but they don’t have money anymore. There is a serious need for funds, enough to help people stay in their homeland. Otherwise they would be forced to leave Syria behind and the country would lose the best of her own children who refused to get involved in the bloody violence. It is mostly Christians who refuse to kill and unfortunately themselves fall victim to the killers.

Our young generations have been turned from being upbeat and hopeful into de-motivated, desperate and deprived. All their hopes in life have been reduced to just staying alive. The sadness on the face of their parents overwhelms them and deprives them of enjoying one of their natural rights—their youth. Instead, they are forced to carry at a very early age the worries of adult life. The little ones are forced to trading their fun toys for war games and toy weapons, depriving them of their own innocence.

The priests in our eparchy are in no better condition. The resources of the eparchy have been depleted. They need to secure the survival of their families so that they can serve the parishioners. At this stage, there is no other opportunity for them to earn some income: there are no schools, no industries. They depend solely on the eparchy. Opportunities no longer exist, even for specialists. They share what little the parishioners still have. Those who have the capital and could invest—assuming they are even still in Syria—are afraid because of the country’s volatile position.

I need your help. I am speaking for them. They need your help, and I carry their cause. It is my religious duty to petition on their behalf. Christ is the one who entrusted them to me. You also belong to Him. It is in this spirit that I feel confident asking to help your brothers and sisters in Christ.

May our loving God overwhelm you with His blessings, and may He reward you by protecting your families. May he provide you with a happy and peaceful life, that is wide open with golden opportunities so that you and your children can live in dignity.

If you help the poor, you are lending to the Lord—and He will repay you! (Proverbs 19:17)

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