Calling Our Governments to Action and Our Churches to Pray for Syria


In the week leading up to this year’s 9-11, I sent the letter below to the Prime Minister of Canada. Please read this letter first, and then, if you are concerned about the problem at hand and challenged by this solution, read also the comments which follow here.

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Some may think this to be a somewhat uncaring response to the tragic situation in Syria, but let me assure you that it is not. It is quite the opposite, in fact. I can applaud those countries which are opening up their borders to receive Syrian refugees, I am sure that they do it with the best of intentions, but it is an unwise and ineffective reaction if that is all they are prepared to do. It may even do more harm than good.

What is the first thing that any homeowner will do when his bathtub is overflowing with water? Will he start cleaning up, or even pull the plug? No, the first thing he will do is shut off the water – he will go immediately to the source of the problem – he will terminate what is causing the damage, and only then will he begin cleaning up and determine what he thinks will be the best method for any future damage control. In the same way, ISIS needs to be stopped quickly and decisively. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who claims to be the only one fighting ISIS, needs to be stopped as well. Every country has bad leaders from time to time, but no people should have to suffer the brutality and tyranny of such a cruel and oppressive ruler as he. The present crisis can only get worse, and it will get far worse, until these terrorists are fully and finally defeated. Many Syrians have no desire to leave their country, nor would they leave, apart from the unbearable nature of all the bloodshed and violence. Clearly, the answer, as any homeowner can tell you, is to shut off the water first. If their homeland is secured, and the citizens themselves are protected, Syrians will be happy to stay where they are, and even many of those who have already left will want to come back. Are we not willing to fight in order to give them that? I see this as the more reasonable and, ultimately, more compassionate approach.

The question may be asked, and should be asked, “But what about the people who are already fleeing for their lives? Where should they go? Where can they be protected in the meantime?” Whether we like it or not, millions of refugees are already living in camps all around the world. Some of these camps are little better than outdoor prisons, that is true, but, with proper supervision and regular aid from the international community, new and better camps can be established for Syrian refugees, a temporary yet suitable provision for those who are waiting to return to their homeland. This is a time-tested and proven solution to the problem. The alternative, of course, is to ship these refugees in massive numbers to other countries and resettle them on foreign soil. Not only is that unnecessary, but it will have long-term and sociologically disastrous effects on those countries, as Germany will learn in due time to her own regret. Why is it that no one seems to want to read or talk about the countless studies that have been done on this? The fact of the matter is that multiculturalism and other attempts at social engineering have never worked.

The question should also be asked, “But what government will replace the present regime of Bashar al-Assad when the Syrian refugees return home?” Frankly, this is a much tougher question to answer, and what happened in Iraq when the regime of Saddam Hussein was toppled and the Americans left is not encouraging, but it is not impossible. With the international help of the Allied powers, this same question was faced and with some measure of success addressed in regard to Japan in the aftermath of World War II. This is evidence that it can be done again.

Some may argue that this is purely a political matter, and that, if we leave it to the powers that be, they will eventually discover a political, and possibly more diplomatic, solution of their own. That, surely, is an incredibly naive assumption. We must not allow our wishful thinking, or our fear of tackling difficult and uncomfortable situations, to dissuade us of responsible action. I would contend that the problem of radical Islamic terrorism is first and foremost a moral issue, one that is urgent and could hardly have anything higher at stake.

I believe, however, that calling on our governments to take military action and to give humanitarian aid is not enough. The Christian community must also pray. The God of the Bible, our Mighty Maker and Sovereign Lord of hosts, “who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20), has promised to hear and answer the prayers of His people (Luke 18:7; James 5:16; etc.) John Bunyan once put it so well when he expressed, “You can do more than pray after you have prayed, but you cannot do more than pray until you have prayed.” I am doing something, therefore, that I have never done in more than 40 years of ministry; I am calling, not only the churches of my own federation, but churches of every denomination, to a time of serious and heartfelt prayer, an extended period of time, however long it may be, to pray for the Syrians and Iraqis, to pray for the downfall of ISIS and radical Islamic terrorism, to pray for the deployment of allied forces to do this work, to pray for the development of humanitarian aid in refugee camps, to pray for the eventual rebuilding of Syria, her political and economic infrastructure, and to pray that in this time of the Lord shaking the nations, as He has so often done in the past, He might draw many souls to a living, saving faith in Jesus Christ (Haggai 2:7; Heb. 12:25-29). I ask that, if you are a Christian, you and your church will respond to this call, that the Lord will lay this matter on your heart as He has on mine, and that we will, together, pray fervently and persistently until this crisis is over.

Respectfully submitted, Rev. Tom Aicken

P.S. If you have any questions or thoughtful comments on this subject, whether you agree with this proposed solution or not, I would like to hear from you. You may contact me through this web site.