Heaters, Jackets, Fuel & Patience – The Ongoing Winter Relief

Many families wait eagerly for their fuel rations last month
Many families wait eagerly for their fuel rations last month
It’s been a little over a month since the first posting about the initial plans for helping some refugee groups through the harsh winters along the Syrian border. Since then, I am thankful to say the Lord has provided the time and means to help hundreds of refugees with monthly rations for heating fuel, dozens with new iron heaters to heat their homes, and 50 refugees as well with new winter jackets during a recent distribution. The groups we are involved with helping are very thankful, and during the distribution days many of their Muslim refugee neighbors – who are themselves desperate for help and face the steadily dwindling help from the UN in these days – begin to show up seeking for help from the churches as well. These are great opportunities to show compassion for the needy, as well as to ‘love an enemy’ as just over the border the actions of some Muslim groups towards their Christian neighbors have clearly displayed their hatred for Christ’s people as they consider them ‘enemies’ to be driven out. How should we not then do as Jesus states and love our enemies who don’t deserve it, even seeking that through these interactions they may themselves become friends and even followers of the One they once hated.

This man got one of the remaining heaters and was quite happy about it!
This man got one of the remaining heaters and was quite happy about it!
Winter is not over yet, and thus the opportunity remains to continue helping these people to heat their homes and survive the frequent dips into sub-zero temperatures in the mountain valleys. This kind of relief is different than what we are normally accustomed to with large-scale, one-time distribution of durable items, and requires MUCH more patience and perseverance to help them all the way! We wait together with them for the chill of the months to abate, and the days to lengthen again as spring approaches. But nobody can make winter pass faster and spring come quicker, and so we dig in patiently for another couple months, trusting the Lord will continue to provide in some way to sustain the approximately 140 families relying on our help this winter for heating fuel and other basic needs that arise, including some possible medical needs currently being looked into (more to come soon on that!).

Getting to know some of these families has been a valuable part of this winter relief.
Getting to know some of these families has been a valuable part of this winter relief.
But while this is not ‘the usual’ fast-paced, one-time quick delivery of relief to an impoverished group, not to see them again for months if at all, in many ways it is actually far better on a human level. These people are not just a mass of hungry, needy faces cycling through a line mumbling thanks for the help, then disappearing off into the camps. They have names. They sit with us and share their lives, their struggles, the pains of the war they fled, the scars their children bear from it. They have questions about God, they listen about Christ, and some come back the next time still wanting to know more. These are the normal, un-spectacular but vital, cumulative interactions needed to truly begin to enter into the plight of these refugees and do more in their life than just provide a hand out. And after five years of displacement, disrespect at the hands of host nations, and disillusionment with so-called foreign interventions trying to settle the Syrian conflict, these poor people need much more than a hand out. It takes time, and it takes labor. Pray God might provide more laborers, as well as make efficient use of the time and remaining resources, to do the most good among these refugees while the time lasts.

You can find out more about the general efforts we are currently doing to try and help refugee families in the region from the original post HERE and later posts HERE and also more about how you can get involved HERE.

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