Today I'd like to draw our attention to Father Hanna Jallouf and his parishioners taken captive by Jihadist rebels.
Father Hanna is Franciscan friar. I do not know him personally, but I know many of his brothers in the Custody of the Holy Land serving here and through out the Middle East.
They were taken at gunpoint by the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front last Sunday from their convent – and yesterday Fr. Hanna was released – however the approximately 20 men who were taken with him were not – their fate is unknown.
They live in the St Joseph Convent in Knayeh, which is in the Idlib province in Northern Syria.
Nuns who were inside the convent at the time have taken refuge in nearby homes.
There have been several documented abductions of nuns, monks and priests who have been kidnapped or killed in Syria since the conflict erupted three and half years ago.
Islamic militants mostly look at Christians as being “collaborators” with the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Last December, al-Nusra kidnapped a group of Greek Orthodox nuns and their attendants in Maaloula.
As part of a prisoner exchange back in March involving women and children held by the government, they were freed unharmed.
A month later a Dutch Jesuit priest, Frans van der Lugt, was beaten and shot dead by gunmen at his monastery in Homs.
Italian Jesuit priest Fr. Paolo Dall'Oglio, who has long promoted religious dialogue in Syria, was kidnapped in July 2013 and is still missing.
Christians made up about 10% of Syria's population before the conflict in the country erupted.
Lets pray for these whom we know, and those who we don't, who are being held against their will by Jihadists – that God would be their strength, that they would be able to serve those around them in captivity, and that their hearts would be full of hope by the Holy Spirit of God Almighty. Lets pray – and Thank you.
Middle East Correspondent