The condition of the church in Syria is becoming more and more desperate as Christians, their property and their churches continue to be the targets of violent attacks, ASSIST News Service reports. A senior church leader reported that Christians in Syria face "inflation, poverty, growing of sectarian enmity, shortages of supplies of food and fuel, cold weather, revenge, kidnapping for big amount of ransom, risks of traveling, frequent Internet cut-off and [more]." While the Christian population of the city of Homs was once between 50,000 and 60,000, just 80 Christians remained in a Christian neighborhood of the old city as of December 2012. They are being held hostage by rebels and prevented from leaving, and are dying one by one as a result of serious hardships and lack of medication. According to Barnabas Aid, the Christians are being kept there as "human shields" by Salafist rebel groups to deter government forces from attacking the Christian area, which is now occupied by rebels. But despite the dangers they face, and the fact that many Syrian Christians have fled their homeland, church leaders have refused to leave their people. "It is our vocation to give our testimony," one senior Christian leader said. "We had a lot of persecution in the past and we have to find a way to continue." As observers predict the collapse of the Assad regime, under which Christians in Syria had been well-treated, the future for Christians looks bleak. "Pray that all Christians in Syria will know the Lord's peace in these desperate times, and that He will make a way for them to live in safety in their own country," Barnabas Aid said.