Neighbors who came to help a 48-year-old refugee widow from Syria thought she was 70.
The mother of seven children, Ranim* showed the signs of affliction from the suffering she’d endured before and after arriving in Jordan. Islamic State (ISIS) invaders in Syria had seized her oldest son and, fearing they might take her other children, she and her husband fled to Jordan in 2013.
“I was so afraid that their fate would be like their big brother – of whom we know nothing, whether he is alive or dead,” Ranim said.
Some of her six children were able to help her husband in whatever odd jobs he could find on the streets, quietly aware of his growing despondency and anguish over the abducted son. Ranim’s husband soon found himself in both emotional and physical pain.
“We went to an organization that treated refugees for free,” she said. “The doctor told us that my husband had cancer. This was a shock to all of us. We couldn’t do anything, because we didn’t have money.”
Without medicine or treatment, he began to look like a corpse, she said.
“I saw him everyday suffering, and his condition continued to worsen; I couldn’t help him,” Ranim said. “After three months, my husband died in my hands.”
His death crushed her psychologically, her children were inconsolable, and the family was without an income, she said. Beyond the difficulty of trying to raise her kids alone, she feared for their safety as they searched for ways to make money on the streets.
Sometimes neighbors would come to help and give them food, she said.
“They thought I was 70 years old because of my bad condition,” Ranim said. “This was the result of lack of nutrition, for I don’t eat much and worried about how my son was. I also thought about my husband who died in my hands and how my children were on the streets.”
The neighbors told her about a health center catering to refugees run by a local ministry. Ranim went to it and received food, grocery store coupons for fruit and money to buy clothes for her children.
“The people received me with joy. I explained to them my story and the situation of my children. They gave me direct assistance,” she said. “They told me to come back every day whenever I need help. I was very happy.”
She also received spiritual food as the workers read the Bible to her and taught her to pray in Christ’s name, she said.
“I heard divine songs that made me feel peace and comfort inside,” Ranim said. “With the songs, I forgot all my pains and sufferings. Now I believe that the Lord does not leave us alone, no matter how bad our situation is. We must trust Him and His Word.”
Her children have also been spiritually fed, she said.
“Now I have been teaching my children to pray, and I always tell them that the Lord is with you, that He is the one who protects you from all evil,” she said. “The Lord lives in our midst as the verse says in John 14:18, ‘I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.’”
Convert to Islam or Die
Besides helping to meet immediate food, medical and other needs, local missionaries also provide vocational training for refugees from Syria and Iraq, along with online Bible teaching.
Some refugees seek asylum in other countries, while others strive to survive in Jordan. A refugee who was working as a church guard in Iraq had to flee with his wife and two children when ISIS artillery fired on his area in 2014, killing his neighbors. In the wee hours of the night, they heard militants over loudspeakers threatening to kill them if they did not convert to Islam, he said.
“They entered the house and threatened us, telling us to join them or leave the house,” the refugee said. “We were at gunpoint, and they gave us a week’s notice to agree and wrote on the door of the house, ‘Property of the Islamic State,’ so I was afraid for my family and children. We had no other choice but to leave the house and leave everything.”
After two months in a crowded Iraqi tent camp, they decided to go to Jordan.
“After the liberation of our areas, we were surprised by the burning of our entire house,” he said. “We no longer have any hope of living in our country, as the government is unable to protect us.”
Local missionaries helped him to recover, and to provide for his family he has since learned to make mosaics at a shop employing other refugees.
“My life has changed, and now I attend prayers and morning meetings every day, and I attend a Bible study every Tuesday,” he said. “We explore the role of God and the role of man and how to apply it in our lives.”
Distraught refugees are receiving physical, emotional and spiritual aid with the help of local missionaries throughout the Middle East. Please consider a donation today to equip workers to help them recover their lives in Christ.
*Names changed for security reasons