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  • Writer's picturePastor Bruce

Newsletter February 2023 - First Presbyterian Ridgewood, NJ


First Pres Newsletter Feb 2023
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Dear Friends:


I am excited to share with you that Rev. Butros Zaour, Pastor of the National Evangelical Church (Presbyterian) in Damascus, Syria, will be our guest preacher on Sunday, February 19!


When I visited Syria in October, I met a number of pastors, their families and members of their congregations. During conversations, which often took place over coffee and cookies or around the dinner table, I heard their stories and began to understand the challenges of the Syrian people. Syria is still suffering from the devastation caused by years of war. Economic sanctions have crippled the Syrian economy. Hyperinflation has caused the cost of consumer goods to skyrocket. And it is estimated that 90% of the Syrian population now lives below the poverty line. To say that life is difficult

there would be an understatement.


Yet, the people I met in the churches of Syria face these challenges with faith and resilience. During worship services, the sanctuaries are packed, the singing is robust, and the conversations during coffee hour are filled with joy and laughter. Just as important, the churches are doing the important work of sharing the love of Christ with their neighbors. One of the churches I visited during the October trip is the National Evangelical Church of Damascus. This church was struck by a stray mortar shell in 2015, leaving a gaping hole in the ceiling as well as damage to the chancel and pulpit. Since that time, the sanctuary has been renovated, resulting in a beautiful worship space.


Yet, the people I met in the churches of Syria face these challenges with faith and resilience. During worship services, the sanctuaries are packed, the singing is robust, and the conversations during coffee hour are filled with joy and laughter. Just as important, the churches are doing the important work of sharing the love of Christ with their neighbors. One of the churches I visited during the October trip is the National Evangelical Church of Damascus. This church was struck by a stray mortar shell in 2015, leaving a gaping hole in the ceiling as well as damage to the chancel and pulpit.

Since that time, the sanctuary has been renovated, resulting in a beautiful worship space.


The church’s pastor, Rev. Zaour, his wife Wafa, and members of the congregation welcomed our team with open arms. They arranged for us to visit a church in nearby Ain Shara, where I was privileged to preach. We also worshiped in a satellite church in Jaramana, a section of Damascus where a number of war refugees have settled. And of course, on that Sunday morning we worshiped in the main church in Damascus. Throughout the weekend, our team was treated to several delicious Middle Eastern meals. Twice I was seated next to Butros and Wafa, and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know them!


Therefore, I am extremely pleased that Butros and Wafa are able to visit First Pres during the weekend of February 17-20. They will join us for worship that Sunday, February 19! And I hope you will too! I know you will be blessed to meet them!


Grace and peace,


Bruce


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