Christians Will Have a Future in Syria if ISIS Can Be Defeated

(Photo: Umit Bektas/Reuters)Syriac Christians from Turkey and Syria attend mass at Mort Shmuni Syriac Orthodox Church in Midyat on February 2, 2014.

A former leader of a Mennonite group who worked for a decade in Syria says he's hopeful Christians will have a future in that country provided the Islamic State terror group is defeated.

"If it is a takeover by ISIS, which is increasingly unlikely, I would be very worried about any sort of Christian presence in Syria," Eldon Wagler, former country representative for Mennonite Central Committee and who served in Syria for 10 years, said in a speech at Bethel College, a Christian liberal arts college in North Newton, Kansas, last week, according to The Kansan.

"I do not think ISIS is going to last too long. ... If you have been following Mosul, you can see what our bombing has been doing there. ... The islamic factions and definitely ISIS is on the wane at this point. That is partly because of Russia. Iran has been active with that. Let's face it, our bombers have been flying up to 100 missions a day trying to target ISIS targets," Wagler added, speaking at the school, which is affiliated with the Mennonite Church USA.

Security forces backed by a U.S.-led international coalition last year took back several cities in Iraq from the Islamic State, also known as IS, ISIS, ISIL or Daesh, and liberated eastern Mosul in December. They are now trying to liberate the western parts of the city.

"I see this civil war dragging on for some time until all the parties slump to the table in exhaustion much as they did in Lebanon after 15 years. They were just tired of the fighting," Wagler continued.

About 400,000 people have died in Syria's conflict, which began over six years ago.

The Connecticut-based Catholic fraternal organization Knights of Columbus has announced it's contributing nearly $2 million to provide crucial humanitarian assistance for Christian refugees in Iraq and Syria.

"Those targeted for genocide continue to need our assistance, especially since many have received no funding from the U.S. government or from the United Nations," Knights of Columbus said in a statement, which was shared with The Christian Post. "The new administration should rectify the policies it found in place, and stop the de facto discrimination that is continuing to endanger these communities targeted by ISIS for genocide."

Earlier this month, members at the evangelical megachurch Christ Fellowship in southeast Florida prepared over 300,000 meals in just two days that will be sent to refugee families displaced by IS and the ongoing civil war in Syria.

Christ Fellowship's associate director of Missions, Philip McCracken, told CP, "It was something that our church could do in a way that creates an easy serve opportunity for people. It allows the opportunity for people to come serve for a small amount of time but when you step back and look at the big picture, you are like, 'Wow! Together, we really did make a big impact.'"

According to a report in USA Today, numerous Syrian Muslims who fled their country and found refuge in Lebanon have converted to Christianity despite threats and incidents of attacks on new converts.

George Saliba, Bishop of Syrian Orthodox Church in Lebanon, said he has baptized around 100 Muslim Syrian refugees since the start of the civil war in Syria in 2011. An evangelical church in Beirut, which was not identified due to safety concerns, also has several Syrian converts, according to the report.

The Constitution of Lebanon provides for religious freedom. However, thousands are coming to Christ across the Middle East, Voice of the Martyrs Canada, which runs radio shows in the region, said in January.