My husband Mark and I just landed last night back from Middle East where we attended a peace conference of Arab Christian leaders from Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan hosted in Amman Jordan by our friend His Majesty King Abdullah. I had the privilege of being the only woman to speak at the gathering, I wanted to lift up my voice on behalf of peace and justice. Spending these last few days in Amman was intense, but so eye opening. Clearly no one is in support of Assad and what is happening in Syria is an outrage but these Christian leaders do not want America to jump in this war with a military strike. They are praying that the United States of America will figure out a political solution not a military one.
We did not meet a single Christian leader over there in support of further action in Syria. Not one. They believe such action will only escalate violence against Arab Christians, it will only serve to trigger more fear and violence. We must find another solution. I pray we do. Yes, it’s terrible what is happening in Syria but a violent response would be terrible as well.
I feel compelled upon my return to speak up and share the heart of what I heard over there.
The repeated message was that they don’t feel American Christians understand the Middle East. That we are not listening to those who live there.
The consensus among the Arab Christian leaders in the region is that any military intervention by the United States will have a detrimental effect on the situation, and have unintended negative consequences particularly for Christians in Syria. Christians in Syria have already been threatened by some opposition leaders, indicating that a different regime in Syria will not welcome Christians. I was asked over and over: “Does the U.S. administration have a plan on how to protect Christians and perhaps other minority groups in the event of a regime change?
Also King Abdullah and the Jordanians have to be commended. They have opened their borders and are providing a haven for Syrians and the refugee situation over there is in crises. The refugee camps are overflowing and water is a scarcity in the desert regions.
I feel in my heart we must speak up and speak out and we must pray for a peaceful resolution.
Roma Downey and her husband Mark Burnett are executive producers of the television miniseries The Bible on the History channel.