Airstrikes may worsen refugee crisis

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LONDON (BP) -- Airstrikes now underway in northern Syria against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) will worsen an already heart-breaking refugee crisis, a Christian worker in the Middle East says.

During just three days last week, at least 130,000 new Syrian refugees flooded across the border into Turkey because of an ISIS offensive in their hometowns. More than 3 million officially registered refugees have been driven out of the country amid the four years of crisis in Syria.

"The current strikes inside Syria are bound to increase the already overwhelming flood of displaced people fleeing to find safety," Don Alan*, a Christian worker in the region, said. "Families desiring safety for their children will look for places that are safe and quiet."

Southern Baptist Convention President Ronnie Floyd called on Southern Baptists to pray for beleaguered Christians in Iraq and Syria just hours before news of the airstrikes broke.

"Perhaps you know or maybe you don't, but currently in Iraq and Syria we are witnessing a once-in-a-thousand-year destruction of the Christian church. A modern book of martyrs is being written," Floyd said. "We need to elevate before our churches the international crisis in Iraq and Syria."

"Pastors and Christian leaders, educate yourself and speak up on behalf of these brothers and sisters in your churches and on social media. Don't let the world ignore this," Floyd said. "I call upon each of us tonight as Southern Baptists to be a voice that resounds loudly and clearly about this issue."

Alan echoed Floyd's call to prayer for suffering refugees -- among whom Christians are a minority -- and the workers risking their lives to help them.

"We should be challenged to not only increase our prayers, but also be broken for the continued challenges faced by those being impacted by the fighting and bombings going in their country," Alan said.

"Pray for courage as we continue to minister and share the love of Christ in the midst of such turmoil," Alan added. "We know that the Lord's desire is that not one should perish without having a chance to hear the good news, that there can be peace on earth in the midst of such traumatic events. May we not grow weary!"

For more information, go to globalhungerrelief.com.

*Name changed.

Mark Kelly writes for Baptist Global Response.
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