News

More Refugees Flee Syrian Killing Fields

March 15, 2012

LEBANON - Still mostly ignored by international news coverage, the trickle of refugees from the killing fields of Syria is turning into a flood. "The number of refugees is growing daily, mostly women and children," say indigenous leaders here.

"The good news is that more help is getting in - but the bad news is that things are getting worse!" says the Christian Aid Mission Director for the Middle East in Charlottesville, Virginia. "However, this is an opportunity for us to show the love of Christ to people who are suffering terribly."

Refugees subsist in temporary housing like this.

In order to collect more help for the innocent victims in Syria and the other frontline border states, Christian Aid has set up a special emergency fund: Gift Code 400REF. Contributions to the special fund are being sent 100% to the Middle East to provide Arabic Bibles, food packages, mattresses, warm clothing and shoes. Credit cards contributions are accepted by calling 800-977-5650 or by giving at our website.

Feeding and housing one refugee family costs about $130 a week in temporary shelters - the cost of food alone is $70 a week.

Christian Aid is enabling indigenous pastors and missionaries to distribute the aid, says the director, because "They are right there alongside the people in most need - and only they can provide holistic help spiritually and physically. This fits well into our concept of providing emergency assistance.

"While American Christians have seen the news about Syria, they have not been informed about these needs and ministry opportunities among the refugees," commented the Christian Aid staffer. "Christians need to be helping those who are on the frontlines of this opportunity; American believers and churches need to provide more help because things are growing much worse."

Bedouin Refugee Numbers Growing

"An amazing number of Bedouins are coming to believers for help," says the Christian Aid Mission spokesperson. In Jordan alone, there are over 17,000 Bedouin refugees and over 10,000 in northern Lebanon. Over 100,000 more refugees are expected in Jordan. One local missionary told Christian Aid that he is on the phone daily with believers who are helping the displaced persons in Syria and refugees in Lebanon. Many innocent Bedouins and Christians are living in areas that have been under heavy bombardment.

"We praise God for the believers and the leaders we have that are still working in these difficult areas," said the local leader.

Another leader says, "You and I are not able to save a nation, but we can save a life or a family -- perhaps a whole neighborhood." He said that since feeding a refugee family costs about $70 a week, those who want to help raise funds should collect offerings in multiples of seven. In other words, 10 school children giving $7 each would feed a family for a week or one person giving $700 could feed seven families!

Among Syria's 22 million people, nearly one out of ten is nominally Christian and are paying the highest price during the current civil war. Many believers are among the 7,500 who have been killed so far in the massacres in Homs, although Christians are staying out of the conflict and have traditionally been protected by the Assad regime which is a secular, socialist government.

Many of the survivors are displaced Christians seeking refuge in Wadi al-Nasaria (Valley of the Christians) near the Lebanese border or in Damascus which has a large Christian population.

"Housing is expensive," say native missionaries, "and many are burning their shoes and scrap lumber for warmth because they lack funds to purchase blankets, heaters and fuel. Children have died of exposure and some are starving. We need cash to purchase food, clothing and anything to keep them warm."

Refugee woman holds gift of food from local Christians.

Local believers are providing both for the spiritual and physical needs of the refugees, with small group Bible studies, cassette tapes and Arabic language Bibles. Native missionaries say they first noticed the increasing numbers of refugees in June, 2011. There were about 1600 Syrian families estimated to be living in North Lebanon by November.

"We are not really prepared to help these people," says a local missionary leader, "but we cannot keep our doors closed when we see our brothers and sisters in need - whether they are from Christian or Muslim background."

Many of the refugees are parts of families separated by the fighting and have exhausted the funds they brought with them. The husbands and fathers find it almost impossible to obtain paying jobs in the area.

Christians are not being targeted for persecution in Lebanon and the refugees were not involved in political demonstrations or anti-government activities. However, the refugees are afraid that anti-Christian extremists will use the civil unrest to harass and kill them as is happening in Iraq and Egypt.

"God uses times of crisis to soften hearts to the gospel," added the Christian Aid staff spokesman. "This may be a time of harvest among Muslim and Christian refugees. God is sovereign. He cares for Muslims. Countries in the Middle East are going through great upheaval. Now many Muslims are turning to Christ. Maybe the long turmoil in Syria is God's way of bringing this about.

"On the other hand, for the believers who are fleeing Syria, they have left everything behind. At best, most will only be able to find menial labor. There is a role here for us, one that is commanded by God - to take care of our brothers and sisters in need."

Christian Aid has been helping victims of the ongoing violence in the Middle East since 1953 when the mission was formed by Bob Finley, author of the classic book on indigenous outreach, Reformation in Foreign Missions. Today, the work of Christian Aid Mission is being carried on under the direction of a Kentucky pastor, Randy Vaught, who was named president in January 2012.

For more information about indigenous missions in Syria, contact Christian Aid at info@christianaid.org.


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