I remember walking the streets of Mhardeh for the first time. I was so young and could not have imagined that years later I would meet a man from this very town, and I would love him. But even then, I loved this village. Mhardeh – “ The City of the Sun.” Those first people .. at the time it was named, I think they knew—that it was as if the sun itself chose to shine on this place with a different, brighter strength, sharing the story of life…
Walking the streets of Mhardeh three years ago .. I could see life blossoming in every corner .. the market street, alive in its rush of morning buyers .. and still bustling in the afternoon, now with the pulse of the younger generation, walking on the same stones all of them together, like a spontaneous festival of love and bright friendship.
I have come to know the people of that village. They are life-lovers and education-seekers. They raise their children on the love of music, and on the passion to one’s studies and on the model of the town’s greatest leader.. Our Christ, the Light of Life.
A Christian village – in name and heart- is blooming and flourishing, peacefully, in the heart of Syria. The goodness in this village didn’t stay in one place, but rather spilled out, like a fountain, to its neighborhoods. People from the surrounding villages, Muslim villages, would come to Mhardeh to study in the Schools, to buy from its market, to use its banks, to get electricity from its Power Station. A light not kept under a bushel.
A village like the sun, now eclipsed.
Mhardeh is under attack, over two months now. For the people of Mhardeh, “Jabhet Al Nousra” is more than a name in the paper – it is their attacker, tireless in its plan to enter the village, occupy it.
They attacked the Power station.
Mhardeh survived 11 days with no electricity; No power, no light, no fans .. with 40ْ C temperature of a hot summer . And the nights, they become dark in every way – the whistle of rockets above and the way they rattle you inside when they land – closer than they did the night before.
But the light is not gone, not entirely. The dark is broken, slightly, with the glint of candles, used not only to see, but to pray. Faithful people, they pray from their homes, into the night, day and night, for God to hold them through this dark storm.
By candlelight, they affirm with each passing day, that they will not leave.. they will remain until the end ..
I want you, and the world, to know the story of this town that I was not born in but came to love. I want you to know about the Christians here.. about their fear … about a life daily under attack .. and about their strength to persevere.
Madam Ghawth, wife of Pastor Maan from the Presbyterian Church in Mhardeh, writes these words:
“They cut the electricity .. so the moon will lighten our nights
They want to push us away .. but we will stay like the trees
They kill our sons .. but their bloods will water the plants ….
The heritages from our ancestors .. its soil ..is more expensive than the pearls
And each human in it …is so dear ..
So excuse us .. We are staying.. we are not moving from here”
Written by: Gladys Abboud Al Sheikh.
Edited by: Rev. Scott Parker.