Nowhere in Syria is safe today. But there are some towns in which there are fewer car bomb attacks and where suicide bombings in crowded market places or outside public buildings are not so frequent.

There is no such thing as normal life in Syria. But there are at least some places where, occasionally, water runs from the taps and the electricity supply is switched on for a few hours, where some food and medicines are still obtainable and where teachers can still teach the children about the world. Today, Homs is such a place once more. There are many Christians living here also, and they want to stay.

Jesuit Father Sammour Nawras is caring for them. In fact he is their pastor, their master builder, teacher, nurse, driver, electrician, delivery man – and so much more besides. In fact he is the one who organises their survival. ‘They just want a little normality’, he says, ‘a little bit of peace, here in Homs, their home town.’

This little fragment of peace and normality is something they can also savour in the monthly basket of food supplies which – thanks to your help – Father Sammour is able to distribute to 400 of the most needy of these families. For the cans of tuna, the packs of spaghetti, the sugar, cheese, flour and tea bring a little warmth and love from the outside world back into their bombed-out homes. An additional 450 families find a little bit of fresh hope in the help you provide towards their rent, without which they would be forced to leave their homes. Again, for around 500 individual Christians, your love is present in the medication without which many of them could not even survive. For the cost of food and medicines is still beyond the reach of most of them.

Of the 16 hospitals that once served Homs and its district, ten no longer function, while the rest are overfilled. For the past five years even attempting to get to school or university meant daily risking one’s life. Now, thanks to your help, around 600 students can at least benefit from the comparative safety of school transport, without which they could not get to their schools and other educational institutions.

All these small, practical forms of help are organised by Father Sammour, and the sum total of them is what gives the Christian communities here the courage to stay on in their home town of Homs. All in all, the hope you are giving Father Sammour and his people helps them hold out and withstand persecution, the hatred of the fanatics and the calculating indifference of the mighty ones.

So often it is the Christians who find themselves trapped between government troops and rebel fighters, and permanently in danger of being ground down, or even driven out. But at the same time they are the ones who bear the seed of reconciliation in their hearts.

Their faith in Jesus Christ is their faith in love and forgiveness. Your gestures of solidarity help to keep alive the hope of peace in these Christians of Homs. And there is nothing this ravaged country needs more than such heralds of hope and love.

This article can be found in Mirror 0316.