By Hunter Williamson

Thirteen years of civil war and regional crises have left Syria in ruins. But amid the destruction and despair, a Thimar partner church is a light on the hill, a messenger of the Gospel and hope.

For thirteen years, Pastor Bassem* has shepherded a Baptist church in northwest Syria through the country’s brutal civil war. 

The church sits in a town far from the frontlines, a town that has been a place of refuge for those fleeing conflict. Many found physical safety in the town, but it is more than just physical safety that people have needed. Civil war has left Syria in ruins. Regional crises have exacerbated the destruction and bloodshed, affecting tens of millions of lives. Hope is hard to find, but it is something that Bassem and the church have sought to provide. 

March marked the 13th anniversary of Syria’s civil war, a conflict that began with anti-government demonstrations and then spiraled into a bloody, geopolitical proxy war. Thirteen years of conflict have displaced more than half of the pre-war population of roughly 21 million, left hundreds of thousands of people dead, and destroyed much of the country.  

Today, fighting is not as intense as in years past, but the country remains fractured, the civil war pro-longed by a set of complex, low-intensity conflicts between local and outside actors. These conflicts perpetuate the civil war and the fallout from it, sparking and fueling even more drivers of hardship and despair in Syria. 

Speaking with Thimar by phone in March, Bassem said that economic collapse and immigration have become the most pressing issues facing Syrians. “The truth is that we are living in another face of the war,” Bassem said. “We might not see military operations – we haven’t seen this happening since 2019, but the war is taking another face, which is the war against keeping Syrians inside Syria. We see that the true war is immigration, to kick Syrians out of Syria. It started with battles, and today it took a socio-economic face. This is harder and harsher than military war. That is because in military war, some areas remain safe, but in this living-cost and economic crisis, no place is safe.”