A Story from Syria


“When the problems began in the country, I was drafted into the army for military service. Despite the fear that I felt, I also felt that even this was part of God’s plan for me. What gave me strength was the Word of Life, the only spiritual food I could have. Every once in a while I managed to telephone my family and give them some news. Then I would telephone the focolare and the Gen – other young people with whom I share this path – in order to share my experiences with them.

My troop in which I was the only Christian, was comprised of fifty officers from all over the country and from all confessions. There was a sincere relationship among us, one that didn’t take differences into account, one built upon sacrifice and altruism and generosity on the part of everyone. At the end of November 2011, we were informed that we were to be transferred each to a different part of the country. This created suspension in everyone. I was also wondering how it would turn out for me. Little by little, I began to notice a small voice in my heart that said to me: “Entrust your whole life to God,” and this gave me peace. Before taking leave of one another, we met on the last night for a send-off and to say goodbye to each other. To my surprise each one of us expressed what he had learnt from the other and, in the end, we embraced like real brothers.

From the month of March 2012 I was assigned to taking charge of new recruits, besides notifying the families of fallen soldiers. These are dramatic moments in which I try to share the family’s pain. As far as my work as an officer, I try to act with transparency and promptness, and to see that every decision I make is for the good of the person. For example, one recruit had to be dismissed for health reasons, but someone had forgotten to draw up his papers. As soon as I realized this, I did everything I could to speed up the process, and he could return home as planned. I even worked extra hours in order to finish all the paperwork.

Right from the start, I decided to live as a real Christian bringing love even into this environment. There are always occasions to live my choice in concrete ways, even risking my life sometimes. For example, one time a colleague had to go and pick some new recruits in a far-away city. There was the danger of attack during the trip and she was frightened. I proposed that I accompany her to the place, and so it happened. At the last moment, the administration decided to send me in an airplane.

One day, coming back from Mass, I heard the news that one of my colleagues, a soldier, had been killed during an attack at the bus station. It was a shock that remained with me for days. Recalling that I had given my life to God gave me strength to believe in His love and it rekindled my hope that God could draw good from all this suffering. In a situation like this there is the risk of becoming accustomed to death. One day they telephoned me with a list of soldiers who had been killed. I was mechanically writing down the names, when I suddenly realized that behind every number was a human being and this made me want to begin praying for each of them and for their families. It seemed the only useful thing to do in this tragedy.

My faith each day is a conquest, and my Ideal is put to the test. This is the only weapon I have along with that of living love completely in each moment with the assistance of the many people who are praying for me.”

(Z. M.– Syria)

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