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'In the midst of my grief You gave me joy'

Courageous widows in war-ravaged Aleppo have told of the daily struggle to raise their children alone, and shared how they are finding strength in their faith and each other ...

“We have a principle not to bow down and weaken in front of difficult life challenges but to walk in God’s path, the path of peace and light.”

Courageous widows in war-ravaged Aleppo have told of the daily struggle to raise their children alone, and shared how they are finding strength in their faith and each other.

As part of a special SAT-7 documentary, Aleppo between Darkness and Light, the crew attended a prayer support group for women who have been widowed in the brutal Syrian civil war. Their inspirational testimonies of faith in the midst of tragedy were broadcast to millions across the Arab world at the end of May.

One of the widows said: “I want to thank SAT-7 for attending this widows of war meeting. We suffer from the absence of our partners. We act as mothers and fathers. There are many difficulties and challenges but we have a principle not to bow down and weaken in front of difficult life challenges but to walk in God’s path, the path of peace and light, just as Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.’”

Life amid the ruins

Aleppo has been one of the most bitterly contested battlegrounds of the Syrian civil war, divided between government and opposition forces since 2012. The documentary captured the devastation of the city that was once Syria’s economic powerhouse.

Although many church buildings now lie in ruins, Aleppo between Darkness and Light highlighted how the Church there is very much alive as Christians serve their community with practical care and testify to God’s faithfulness.

One of the widows, whose husband was killed only two and a half months ago, said: “I am still hurting and it’s difficult for me to talk about it. I have two children to raise and I want to put them through school.

“I am living in a rented home and my financial situation is difficult. But I thank God and I have great faith in Him that He will help me and stand by me all the time. I have strong faith that God doesn’t forget anyone, not me nor others.

“Just as I pray for me and my children, I pray for all those wounded and hurt that God is always with us.”

Finding strength together

The prayer support group is a source of strength for the widowed women, some of whom are also struggling with injuries sustained in the war. Providing for their families is a big challenge as most of them previously relied on their husbands for financial support.

One of the women lost an eye and has an arm injury but has to work every day for the sake of her son despite her physical pain. Another has to work in the family-run store where her husband was killed by a missile.

In the midst of such loss and anguish, the Syrian widows are testament to the promise of God’s word that “the Lord is close to the brokenhearted” (Psalm 34:18).

One of them shared how the tragic loss of her husband has deepened her relationship with God: “Christianity was hereditary to us. Sometimes we went to church, other times not. I always had this question in my mind and I asked God, ‘Show me yourself, God’.

“Since this loss that changed my life completely, I heard God’s voice.

“He has a purpose in this and I thank God; I have great faith in Him.”

Asked what message she would give to encourage other widows, she said, “Prayer. Prayer is the power that shakes the whole universe… I say to God, ‘In the midst of my grief You gave me joy.’”

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