Date: May 17, 2013
(Story images courtesy 8thirty8, E3 Partners)
Syria (MNN) ― Eight weeks ago, an E3 Partner disappeared in Syria. E3 vice president and Middle East expert Tom Doyle first alerted Mission Network News to their concerns in mid-April.
Doyle explains the situation: "He was in a very, very hot spot where there have been some Christian leaders that have been kidnapped. He's been threatened many times, and we just feared for the worst because of where he was and just no messages whatsoever."
Added to the tension was the kidnapping of two archbishops of the Orthodox Church in the same area. When "Ahmed" went missing, the team feared the worst.
Ahmed's predicament was a high priority on May 11, which was The International Day of Prayer and Fasting for the Syrian Church. Doyle says thousands of people joined in. Sometime later, "A Syrian leader texted out, ‘God Answer! God ANSWER!' We were able to get a word to him and say, ‘What did God answer? What happened?' And he said, ‘Ahmed is fine!'"
Doyle explains, "Basically, he got rid of his cell phone and went underground until he could resurface. We thank the Lord that he is okay. But the believers are in peril in Syria. There are two archbishops that have been kidnapped. Christians, from what we hear from our leaders, are getting threats daily."
In light of that, Doyle adds, "We now know where he is. He's safe. His family is safe. All glory goes out to the Lord who protected him." As Doyle shares the concerted worldwide prayer effort with Syrian church leaders, he says they were overwhelmed. "When they heard about this, the believers in Syria just cried...that believers cared enough about them to be praying every day. Boy! When we pray and fast, the Lord is so moved by that and Ahmed is just evidence of that!" The Syrian believers are rejoicing, and so are members of the E3 team.
The prayer effort gained traction quickly via social media. Doyls explains, "The 8:38 Web site is a Facebook site. It's the number 8thirty8, and we encourage believers to set their watches to 8:38 pm each night to pray for believers that are either in prison, persecution, or danger." Why did they land on a time of 8:38? "It goes with Romans 8:38-39: 'For I am convinced that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities [and Paul names like eight things] shall be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.'"
In his jubilant e-mail announcing answered prayer, Doyle mused, "So what do you think of when you see the young girl holding the 'Free Syria' sign or the boy hoisting the Freedom Syria banner? Many people would think of the 2-year-old bloody war between Bashar Assad's Alawite government and the Sunni Muslims."
In the context of answered prayer, he adds, "We think of Ahmed,' his wife, and two young girls that are safe and sound and protected by our Amazing Jesus. That's the real freedom for Syria."
Pray daily at 8:38! "Nothing can separate us from the Love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."