In a display of grace and unity, Christian churches in the war-torn region of Aleppo are opening their doors to displaced Muslim families, where children are taught the truth of the Gospel.
According to Christian persecution charity World Watch Monitor, the continued bombing and unrest in Muslim parts of the city have forced thousands to flee to Christian areas to seek refuge. There, moved by the kindness shown by their Christian counterparts, Muslims are slowly trickling into churches.
"Many Muslims were genuinely surprised when they met Christian women in our churches willing to serve them," 28-year-old Kristina, a Christian who fled from the city after having her first child, told World Watch Monitor. "Their image was that all Christian women spend most of their days dancing in night clubs and drinking alcohol! Meeting each other was a shock, both for them and for us."
While Kristina now lives in Lebanon, she revealed that her friends still in Aleppo have told her that churches are now filled displaced Muslims: "Many are re-thinking the faith they grew up in and have dropped their hostility towards Christians," she said. "The only thing we have to do is tell them the good news; they are waiting for it."
Most Muslims attend churches to take classes organized to help them cope amid the chaos of Syria's five-year civil war, while others are drawn to activities laid on for children - and even encourage their children to read the Bible. Kristina revealed that for many Muslims, it is the first time they have mixed with Christians; thus, they were surprised to learn that churches offered support for all Syrians, not just for Christians.
"Their mosques don't do that," Kristina said. "Many are re-thinking the faith they grew up in and have dropped their hostility towards Christians."
Due to the harsh restrictions imposed on Muslim women, may feel "liberated" in Christian churches.
"They notice the church doesn't see them as merely machines only fit for cleaning, giving birth to children, and raising them, like many Muslim men do," Kristina said. "In Islam, many women don't have any rights. When they feel how Christians really care for them, it feels like heaven for those women. They see it's possible to live as independent women, to dream."
Persecution watchdog Open Doors USA reports that before the war, it was rare that a Muslim would become a follower of Jesus Christ. However, what man meant for evil, God meant for good, as Muslims are now turning to Christ in "unprecedented" numbers.
"They come to church because they feel comforted," a local pastor said. "I heard people testify: 'Thank God for the war in Syria; it brought us to Jesus.'"
He continued: "God is at work in a special way. We see a lot of new faces being baptized. In the coming few years, we will be the minority, and believers from other backgrounds will be the majority."
The pastor explained that new believers are unafraid to risk everything for their faith: "They have to leave their context and their families. They know that whoever leaves Islam should be killed. These wonderful new believers will become preachers all over the Middle East. God is waking up a sleeping church; a new nation of new believers is being born."