A boy rides a bicycle near damaged buildings in the rebel-held area of Old Aleppo, Syria, on May 5. • Abdalrhman Ismail/REUTERS

By John Martin

Christians in Aleppo made an urgent request for prayer after suffering continuous bombing in the first week of May. Aleppo’s Christians have asked for worldwide fasting and prayer for the safety of their city and of all Syrians.

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The bombings of Aleppo intensified in early May, killing hundreds and wounding many more. Even hospitals have been attacked.

Civil war has raged in Syrian for five years. Last month a United Nations special envoy estimated that 400,000 have been killed.

“The truth is that Jesus has risen,” a Christian leader who asked for anonymity told the U.K. office of Open Doors. “So now we are asking you to join us in an international prayer and fasting day for Aleppo. We are refusing to see the death anymore in Syria, Aleppo especially, and we are declaring the resurrection of the Christ on our beloved country.”

The battle for Aleppo reached a new peak on May 8 as Syrian warplanes attacked Islamic insurgents and tried to push them out of the area. Aleppo, the nation’s second-largest city, is one of the most important strategic points in the Syrian conflict. During much of the past five years it has been divided between government and rebel-held zones.

Aleppo, with its population of more than 2 million, is the trading gateway to Turkey. In ancient times the Silk Road to China began at Aleppo. The city’s importance declined only after the Suez Canal opened.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said that rebels have fired rockets at residential areas in government-controlled zones. At least seven people were injured when a building collapsed after being struck by a missile. SOHR reported that an airstrike targeted the rebel-held town of Kafr Naha, in the western Aleppo countryside, killing several people at a hospital.

Honor for Pioneer Missionaries: Anglican faithful in Malawi are celebrating the spirit of pioneer missionaries who brought the gospel to their country and opposed slavery. In late April the church celebrates the arrival of the first Anglican missionaries to Malawi.

The annual event is held at the Village of Julius near Kamuzu Bridge, Chikwawa, where the Rev. Henry Carter Scudamore and John Dickson died in January and March 1863, respectively. These missionaries, sent by the Universities’ Mission to Central Africa, settled in the area just a year earlier but succumbed to malaria.

Scadamore and Dickson came to Malawi in 1861 in the company of Charles Mackenzie following a request by pioneer explorer David Livingstone to liberate Malawi from a roving slave trade. They first settled in Magomero, Chiradzulu, but moved on to Chikwawa after Mackenzie died of malaria in 1862.

This year the chief speaker at the celebration was Macmillan Nyirongo, senior police officer in charge of the region.

“The church should look beyond the commemoration,” he said. “It should rather look at the mission and services the missionaries brought and then build on that. The missionaries did not only abolish the slave trade but also brought development, and we should strive to carry on with that.”

The Rt. Rev. Alinafe Kalemba, Bishop of Southern Malawi, said the church is committed to continuing the missionaries’ work today through its humanitarian and development works.

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