By BosNewsLife Middle East Service with reporting by BosNewsLife's Stefan J. Bos
DAMASCUS, SYRIA (BosNewsLife)-- Christian aid workers and local believers in Syria have urged prayers and assistance after President Bashar Assad's forces were accused of launching a chemical weapons attack killing at least 70 people and injuring many more.
“The world uses bombs and rockets. We have a weapon that gives life: the Word of God," said a partner of advocacy and aid group Open Doors working in Syria. "Many thousands of families found their way to the churches. But we need help.”
The name of the partner was not identified apparently amid security concerns in a country where groups such as Islamic State have threatened and killed Christians.
However, "the images are devastating, It’s hard to imagine such an evil action against humanity," said David Curry, the president and CEO of Open Doors USA in a statement to BosNewsLife.
Eyewitnesses said the attack hit the Khan Sheikhoun area early Tuesday morning local time, April 4, while many were still asleep. Those who inhaled the chemical gas are suffering serious medical issues, while some died instantly. People were found, many of them children, in the streets,
choking and gasping for breath.
The victims who survived have experienced foaming of the mouth, blue facial skin and lips, severe shortness of breath and asphyxiation, according to aid. It is believed that as many as 400 people have suffered respiratory problems, Open Doors said.
Tuesday's attack, one of the worst in the country's six-year civil war, added to anxiety among Christians in Syria. Almost 5 million Syrians, including Christians, have fled the country and over six million are reportedly displaced internally in Syria, which has been devastated by the fighting.
In response, United States President Donald Trump launched a air strikes upon the Syrian air base from where the chemical attack was allegedly launched. Deploying 59 American cruise missiles, initial reports claim much of the air base has been destroyed.
The Syrian government has denied using chemical weapons, instead blaming opposition fighters for stockpiling the chemicals. Russia's Defense Ministry said the toxic agents were released when a Syrian airstrike hit a rebel chemical weapons arsenal and munitions factory on the eastern outskirts of the town of Khan Sheikhoun in northern Idlib province.
Open Doors said amid the turmoil Christians and others are living "in a sort of hell-on-earth" as the escalating violence is another danger threatening their lives.
BELIEVERS IN JESUS
"Much is unknown in this hour. What does tomorrow hold? Will this already tense situation escalate, or will our leaders and the leaders of the world pursue diplomacy?," Curry noted. "But one thing we do know: as believers in Jesus, we must hit our knees in prayer."
Curry said that "Prayer knows no boundaries, it opens doors, it opens hearts." His group and other believers urged Christians around the world to pray. "It’s our holy obligation in our partnership with God to bring His will to pass on earth 'as it is in heaven',” Curry stressed.
"Please pray for our partners throughout Syria. Compelled by building God’s kingdom — most refuse to leave. This is their mission field, and their calling."
He also said that Christian partners in Syria urged prayers "for all the innocent bystanders — regardless of their faith. Many have been caught in the crossfire…and the loss of life has been senseless."
Curry told Open Doors supporters to also "lift up all our world leaders" [in prayers] "to work towards peace, and for God’s Spirit to guide discussions and provide peaceful options."