In the midst of one of the tightest and most divisive elections in our history, Gary Johnson, a third party candidate for president, made a huge error when being interviewed on one of the most influential news stations on television. On CNN, Gary Johnson stated he had a plan on how the US could help with this crisis. However, when asked about the Syrian refugee crisis, Gary did the unthinkable. With a blank stare and equally blank response, Johnson replied, “What is Aleppo?”
Being educated on world affairs should not be reserved for a high school current events class. In this media- saturated and technological age in which we live, we all have instant access to the information we need to not only make informed decisions, but to educate and encourage churches to take action and to be the hands and feet of Christ. Considering its significance at the heart of the refugee crisis, all Christians need to know a bit more about this city and the crisis as a whole so you can take a proactive stance in helping these people who need our help.
Here are ten facts you need to know about Aleppo so you can be more informed about this hot button topic not only at the center of upcoming presidential debates but also at the center of our nation:
1) According to wordencyclopedia.com, Aleppo is a city in northern Syria, the second largest city in Syria after Damascus, and one of the oldest inhabited cities in history.
2) The city is situated between the Mediterranean Sea and the Euphrates River. Its population is 2,132,200.
3) Aleppo in Arabic is the word Halab, which is rumored to refer to the copper and iron metals the city is known for. The word Halaba means “white,” which could refer to the marble found in the city’s soil, giving it a whitish hue. Abraham in the Bible was believed to give milk to travelers who moved throughout the region, which could also have significance since the word Halab also means, “to give out milk.” 1
4) Aleppo has been in the news recently because on August 17, Syrian airstrikes attacked the city, killing 85 people and wounding 300 others. The airstrikes targeted hospitals, leaving hospitals with adequate supplies and resources to help victims. The attacks increased the number of casualties and placed a target on Aleppo’s back as a possibility for future attacks. Everyone in Aleppo is terrified for their families and their city’s future. “Syria’s military declared the ceasefire over on Monday, after a strike by US-led coalition warplanes on a Syrian army post killed dozens of troops. The US military did not dispute the strike, but characterized it as “unintentional” and relayed its “regret” to Syria through Russia, saying the intended target had been ISIS.”2
5) Social media became abuzz with a picture of a little boy, Omran Daqneesh, who, along with his family, was a victim in the attack. A reporter took a picture of this child, covered in dust and blood from being hit in his head, as a reminder of the horrors of war. It was reported that Omran, in extreme shock, never cried once after being rescued, but only sat silently, wiping blood from his head and looking down at his hands. This picture was shared over various social media platforms as a reminder that our world is more tumultuous than ever and Christians need to be on their knees in prayer for the world as a whole, not just the United States.
6) The U.N Security council held a meeting to discuss the crisis with many Ambassadors for the United Nations questioning Russia’s involvement with Syria.
7) Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have proposed declaring a “no fly zone” over Syria and creating a safe zone for Syrian refugees. However, this proposition has yet to be implemented. Trump said, “If [Russian President Vladimir] Putin wants to go and knock the hell out of ISIS, I am all for it 100 percent, and I can’t understand how anybody would be against it.” 3
8) Bashar Jaafari, Syria’s ambassador to the United Nations, said his plan was for the government to reestablish control over all the territory seized during these attacks.
9) Governor and Vice presidential candidate Mike Pence said the US. will have to intervene if Russia continues to be involved in these attacks on Aleppo. He said in the debate on October 4, “”If Russia continues to be involved in this barbaric attack on civilians in Aleppo, the U.S. needs to be prepared to strike military targets of the Assad regime, to prevent them from this humanitarian crisis taking place in Aleppo.”4
10)The United Nations has reported that since 2012, the death toll in Syria has risen from 30,000 to 400,000. Yet Trump and Clinton in the last debate steered clear of any reference to Aleppo, instead focusing their attention on how to fight ISIS.
Now that you are educated on Aleppo, Syria, and the growing refugee crisis, what will you do as a leader to educate and empower your congregation to do something about it?
Michelle S. Lazurek is a multi-award winning author, speaker, pastors’ wife and mother. She loves helping people reach their potential and writes for various websites such as Christianity Today’s Gifted for Leadership and The Christian Communicator. Her newest book An Invitation To The Table helps people incorporate hospitality into their everyday lives. To learn more about Michelle, visit her website and follow her on Twitter at @mslazurek or onFacebook.