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Syria relief: the latest

Refugees are slowly getting the resources they need, thanks to BMS World Mission partners

Since the beginning of the Syrian conflict in March 2011, millions of people have either been displaced within Syria or become refugees in countries such as Jordan and Lebanon. Two years later, the fighting continues and thousands more continue to flee their homes to face isolation, rejection, and the elements. In the midst of it all, BMS World Mission and partners are providing resources and time and sharing Christ with all those willing to listen.

“Hearing about the conflict is one thing,” says Rev Jihad Haddad, of True Vine Baptist Church in Bekaa Valley, Lebanon. “Sitting with these people who are crying in front of you, not knowing what to do or where to go is something else. We are helping a lot, we are reaching many thousands of people, but what more can we do?” True Vine works closely with BMS partner organisation, Lebanese Society for Educational and Social Development (LSESD) and is helping hundreds of Syrian refugee families in Bekka Valley by providing resources and acceptance.

This month, a little more help arrived in the form of 1,711 food packages that were delivered to approximately 790 families through local churches and partners. BMS and other relief organizations are aiming to provide other resources that will meet physical needs, restore dignity and improve the quality of life for the refugees. 

An estimated 6,000 Syrians are crossing into Lebanon every day and many of them end up at True Vine, seeking help and shelter. “Everyone is pushing them aside and closing the doors in their faces. The only place they can find acceptance and welcome is in the church,” says Rev Jihad.

Among those working with the churches in Lebanon are BMS mission workers Arthur and Louise Brown. They helped set up the Learning Support Project at Hadath Baptist Church. In addition to providing necessary education and life-skills training, one of the project’s goals is to improve relations between Syrian and Lebanese youth. “We work to break down the cultural and religious barriers,” says Arthur. “There is a lot of negative history between many Lebanese and Syrians.”

Although a portion of the aid Syrian refugees have received is from churches around Lebanon, the relationships between Christians of these two nations have not always been so civil. “I’m excited that there have been so many churches willing to step up and welcome many Syrian refugees from various religious backgrounds,” says Arthur. “There have not always been good relations between.” This warm welcome has Hadath Baptist to start second morning services. These are so popular that there is only standing room during the first one.

Within Syria, efforts to help the 5 million people who still live in the country but no longer have their homes is also going strong. Some, who tried to leave, have met closed borders and even violence. Aid partners have been busy providing medical services in addition to food, clothes, and blankets to homeless refugees with nowhere to go and no way to leave. A total of 1,400 families received medical treatment and health education. In addition, 1,300 school children received hygiene packs and time has been set aside for crafts each week, allowing women to make decorations and other useful items for their tents. 

Despite the refugees’ desperate situation, BMS mission workers and partners have provided a source of comfort, reassurance, a time and place for prayer and greatly needed resources.  

This article first appeared on the website of BMS World Mission and is used with permission

Vickey Casey, 25/10/2013
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