The Alawites are members of a special Islamic group; there are about 2 million of them in Syria (10-15 per cent of the total Syrian population). Their mother tongue is Arabic, and their traditional homeland is the mountainous region south-east of Latakia, Syria’s largest port. The Alawites were persecuted by Sunnite Muslims in earlier centuries, so they retreated to the mountains far from the Mediterranean coast. For a long time, they lived in poverty and without any access to education.
Between 1856 and 1958, missionaries evangelised in the predominantly Alawite regions. Some individual Alawites came to believe in Jesus as their Lord and joined Protestant churches. However, no indigenous Alawite churches came into being. Some of the descendants of these Christians turned back to the religion of their ancestors under pressure from the majority; others – including many Syrian Christians – have emigrated from Syria during recent decades.
Outreach among Alawites needs to begin again, even though it is forbidden to evangelise in Syria. However, Alawites can listen to evangelistic radio programmes and receive Christian TV broadcasts by satellite. In Aleppo or Damascus, they can buy a Bible or Christian books. But rarely will they meet a native Christian who is able to explain the gospel to them.
* Pray that there will be an awakening among the Alawites through the Spirit of God, so that they will search for the truth.
* Pray for the Alawites to turn to Christ through the testimony of Christians and through evangelistic literature and radio and satellite TV programmes.
* Pray for there to be a new freedom for the proclamation of the gospel, especially by foreigners, thus ending 45 years of prohibition.