Five years after the civil war broke out in Syria, more than 11 million Syrian refugees find themselves still longing for home. Many refugees fled to neighboring countries with only the clothes on their backs, and now they are heavily dependent on quickly depleting international aid.
The need is crushing, but through this crisis, doors for the gospel are opening. Muslims who would have never let a Christian into their homes are now getting to hear the hope of the gospel, and receiving life-saving supplies through the ABWE Syrian Refugee Relief Fund.
Thanks to the contributions of generous supporters, ABWE has sent more than $190,000 dollars to help provide refugees with basics like food, heaters, clothing, and education. These small offerings in a sea of desperation have made a huge impact.
“Showing the love of Christ in practical ways has opened doors to share the story of hope — doors that would never have been opened were it not for this horrible tragedy,” said an ABWE worker ministering in the Middle East. “They are sensing the love we have for them and our genuine desire to get to know them and care for them.”
The impact of these efforts was evident when one relief team visited a community of refugees that they had been working with for a few months. At first glance, the area just looked like a cluster of abandoned buildings. But as the relief team’s familiar car came to a stop, people began to emerge and a man silently pulled back a plastic sheet covering the entry to their shelter and motioned for the team to come inside.
They obeyed and stepped into a dark, cold room where winter winds were forcing their way in through large holes in a wall shoddily covered by tattered blankets. In one corner, a lone bulb strained to illuminate the room, and in another corner, a young boy struggled to keep warm next to a heater the team had provided them with aid from the ABWE Syrian Refugee Relief Fund.
The man directed the team to take a seat on a shabby carpet as a steady stream of dark figures wordlessly entered. Soon, the room was completely filled with men, women, and children who had heard about the team’s aid.
These refugees were used to living in the shadows so not a sound was heard until a relief team member named Samir* introduced his team. He explained that they were Christians who love Jesus and that they represented many Christians involved in this aid effort. Then, Samir did something these survivors were not used to: he asked them how they were doing.
Representing the voice of this community, one man explained that life was not difficult because no one was trying to kill them here. But he also explained that it wasn’t easy. They struggled to find work, faced high rent by local landlords exploiting the refugees, had limited access to medical care, and lacked basics, like shoes and diapers.
“No one sees us. But you did. You cared and gave us this heater,” one man said, pointing to the lone heater in the corner. “Without this we would have nothing,”
After more discussion, Samir asked the refugees what they thought the main obstacle to peace in Syria was. He expected a political and complicated answer, but one man simply said, “We do not forgive or forget.”
Others nodded in agreement, and Samir saw an opening.
“Do you know what Christmas is about?” Samir asked.
Most people averted eyes and some shrugged their shoulders.
“Christmas is about peace,” he explained. “Jesus was born to take your sin and give you peace with God. Jesus died for this and forgiveness is a free gift for all those who repent and love Jesus. When we know God has forgiven us for our wrongs, we know we can forgive others, and we can be at peace.”
Over the next few hours, Samir and his team discussed and answered questions.
This is how doors are slowly opening in hard-to-reach regions of the world — compassion leading to meaningful conversation about the Creator and Giver of peace.
Learn how you can help share Christs’ love with Syrian refugees.