“Let the Children Dance” – Finding Abundant Life in Former ISIS Stronghold

4 April 2023


Let the little children dance!

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me,” and that was our motivation through drama and dance this fall in Syria. At GLC programs in Burma earlier this year, we were introduced to a dance which we re-taught on our Syria mission to share the gospel message at 11 GLC programs throughout northeast Syria. Throughout our trip, friends in IDP camps, border schools, two churches, an orphanage, a handicap school, friends’ houses, two front-line hospitals, and many town councils, wanted to pass on their thanks to you for your ongoing prayers for God’s protection in the face of constant threats of attack from Turkey and ISIS sleeper cells. 

Our first visit in three years to the Deir Ezzor region was especially significant. This was the place where we helped over 25,000 people, most of whom were ISIS families fleeing fighting at Baghouz, the town where ISIS made their last stand in 2019. Although many conservative Islam communities there still hold sympathies for ISIS ideologies (and harbor sleeper cells), we were welcomed by civic and school leaders who have persevered in the democratic administration of this region. We held two GLC programs in their schools and were surprised by the orderly and polite students we met, and the opportunity to share about the love of Jesus. 

This area is still in conflict and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF)/ Self Administration’s commitment to stabilizing and improving these communities is inspiring. What had been a huge ISIS tent-city imbedded with explosives and munitions, as well as human death and destruction, in 2019, had been transformed into beautiful olive orchards and productive farmland along the banks of the Euphrates River. We retraced our steps from that scene of chaos and desperation just three years ago and then visited a memorial overlooking the new pastoral scene, thanking God for His mission of mercy during that time. 

In every visit, we shared encouragement that the people of northeast Syria are not alone, that Jesus is with them, building faith, hope, and love into their communities, and that he invites us to come to Him as children for all we need. We are thankful, for you, friends all over the world, who hold them in your hearts and prayers. 

Thank you and God bless,

Karen, family and FBR

Children dance and sing at GLC at Baghouz school.
Kids dance with Karen.
ISIS families surrender from the ruins of Baghouz, 2019.
Tyler, Eliya, and Sahale treat wounded SDF soldiers in Baghouz battle against ISIS, 2019.
Syrian girl reads children’s Bible we gave her.
Mohammad, Sahale, Hosannah, and team feed ISIS who gave up in Baghouz, 2019.
GLC program at new Baghouz school.
Happy child at new Baghouz school.
In class at Baghouz now.
Looking over at what once was the battlefield of Baghouz, now green fields.
On the now peaceful Euphrates River.
Death throes of Baghouz, the last stronghold of ISIS, in 2019.