Beautiful Syria.

As we were leaving the Syrian city of Homs, I started my video while aiming my phone out the van window.

Stopping the video only once when we crossed a checkpoint, I ended up with almost six minutes of destruction. Apartment after shop after house, pummelled and smashed to rubble. Every single structure beyond repair. What was not already dust would need to be fully demolished and hauled away before anything could be rebuilt. I had never been this close to absolute destruction.

With seven other MCC colleagues, I was part of a privileged glimpse into Syria at year seven of a brutal war our hosts called “the crisis.” The ever-present welcome of coffee and sweets was often followed quickly by an apology that we needed to see them in their time of loss. “Please come again when we have the beautiful Syria back again.”

Sunset on the road to Homs.MCC photo/Emily Loewen

Beautiful Syria.

Even in war, Syria is still beautiful. Much of its beauty is in the cities and landscapes. But truthfully, most is in the determined generosity of a people unwilling to let go of hope.

In Damascus, beauty is a table full of young adults, themselves formerly internally displaced people, now taking time from their studies to volunteer bringing MCC food parcels to others bombed out of their homes.

Rick Cober Bauman talks with a volunteer who works with an MCC partner to distribute monthly food baskets. MCC photo/Emily Loewen

In the Qalamoun Valley, beauty is the Islamic Charity of Deir Attieh, an organization supported by MCC, assisting displaced women in preserving food to sell to supplement the MCC cash-for-rent, allowing their family to survive another month.

Mostly the beauty of Syria is the refusal of her people to leave. Six minutes of bomb-levelled homes. Millions displaced inside her borders. And yet, in every village and city was an invitation from our partners, especially in the churches. “MCC, please keep up your support so the full beauty of Syria can return!”

My prayer is that our MCC commitment to “share God’s love and compassion for all in the name of Christ” runs deep enough for us to stay with our beautiful neighbours in Syria.

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