It’s been over a month now since the shocking attacks in Israel shook this whole region. The relative peace and stability in this region this past summer seems to have only been a façade, a calm awaiting a fierce storm. And so that storm has now broken upon many, including our host country where we’ve been serving refugees and the local poor these many years.
The rumblings of a broader regional war surround us on a daily basis, but thankfully that has not yet materialized. The conflict in the south certainly affects daily life here, putting everyone on edge in anticipation of worse things to come. But thus far things have been contained to the south, and not spread further. However, nobody knows what will come on any given day.
In the midst of this unexpected conflict, our team has nonetheless been pressing ahead with normal ministry in the midst of an abnormal time. The needs here in the mountains among the displaced Syrian refugees and impoverished locals have only increased due to effects from the ongoing regional conflict. With increased needs comes increased opportunities to help, however, and by God’s grace we’re hoping to press ahead and do just that.
This update covers some of the things our team’s been doing in past months, including:
- Food distribution to poor families
- Urgent medical help
- Continued daily bread distribution
- Summer harvest and planting at the Grace Farms
- Preparations for local winter needs
- Update and progress with Afghan Evacuee cases
Helping 180 Local Families with Direct Food Aid
Last month when the conflict first began, our initial thought was to begin stockpiling food for the community in the event of a larger war cutting off shipping routes. We were able to gather about 2 tons worth of canned and dried goods before markets began restricting over fears of shortages. We had planned to use this food in the event things got bad and real hunger set in amongst the community we serve. Thankfully, after a month it became apparent to everyone here that for now the ports would remain operational and food could still come in as before.
The immediate fear of food shortages dissipated, so we distributed the majority of our 2-ton stock pile to 180+ needy refugee and local families in the community. They were very thankful, and the food seemed very much needed at this time.
One woman walked in to receive her food bag and was lifting her hands to the sky thanking God for the center being open again and distributing aid. Some thought we had left after the conflict began down south, as some other ministries have pulled their staff due to increased risks. The refugees and locals were appreciative to know that we are still here to help in this troubled time. We are thankful the Lord has continued to provide for us to be able to help and stay!
Urgent Medical Interventions Helping To Save Lives
We’ve had a few urgent medical cases in recent months requiring immediate intervention. The father of a local man who helps at the Daily Bread Bakery suddenly developed severe chest pain one night. His EKG showed a massive ongoing heart attack. He needed a heart catheter put in as soon as possible or he wouldn’t make it.
By God’s grace, even though it happened over the weekend when banks were closed, the ministry had enough cash on hand to help fund the surgery and get him stabilized. He survived and is recovering well. Pray for him as he has been affected by this event and impacted by the fact it was the Christians who came to his aid when he was near death. He thanked God, and Jesus, for his second chance at life and successful heart surgery.
Other recent medical cases included a sudden appendectomy that one of the Syrian refugees needed last month due to an acute case of appendicitis, a young woman needing blood transfusion due to severe chronic thalassemia, and an older woman suffering from internal uterine bleeding not resolved without surgical intervention.
Less critical cases, but still needful, are the house calls to assess or treat the sick in the community with simple out-of-hospital care, taking people to the local clinic for diagnostic tests, and delivering weekly chronic medications to hundreds of patients in the community each month.
The Lord keeps us busy out here with many medical needs and open doors to show compassion. We have a growing list of people in need of cataract surgery who are steadily going blind as well. We are working to compile their cases currently. Thank you for praying for these needs!
Increasing Our Daily Bread Distribution
We are thankful for the new commercial oven the Lord provided via the generosity of a Christian businessman in America. We’ve spent the last couple months building a new bakery workflow around this massive oven. It’s required a lot of retraining, reworking recipes, and rethinking old processes.
As of this month things are operating efficiently at the Daily Bread Bakery under the new system. New and better bread is being made and distributed to poor families. The workers bake at least 1,800 pieces of bread a week just for charitable distribution. The refugees and poor locals receiving this bread enjoy the new kind of baguette-loaf (called “frangeh” here in Arabic) from the new oven. Many are thankful to have it as a stable staple they can count on to feed their children in increasingly difficult economic times.
As efficiency at the bakery increased, so too do the needs in our area. We are hoping this next month to be able to increase weekly distribution of bread by at least 50% more quantity going to the families receiving it. We need to acquire one more piece of equipment, a large walk-in bread proofer, to speed up the process enough to make this happen, but we’re hopeful this will be able to be built before the start of winter next month.
Grace Farms Summer Harvest and Third Planting
Summer is very much over out here, even though our warm weather extends well into late October/early November. Praise the Lord, we had a strong harvest this summer, despite some setbacks with lack of water in one location.
We were able to distribute out a tremendous amount of tomatoes, squashes, eggplants, okra, beans, peppers, cucumbers and other nutritious veggies to needy families. So far for the total harvest weight this spring and summer, we have logged about 4.7 tons of fresh produce from the Grace Farms.
We are trying something new this year in the hopes of squeezing in a third planting cycle allowing for a late fall/early winter harvest. We planted many cool weather crops such as brassicas (cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower), carrots, radishes and lettuce in the hopes that the spring-like weather out here that continues well into December would be enough to grow a third crop in the year and harvest it right before the colder rains and snow come in early January.
The Lord has blessed us with a few good rains and warmer than usual weather this fall. We have a good crop of lettuce coming ready this week, and some very robust looking brassicas, so it seems we will very likely get one more harvest cycle late this year to get out to families before true winter begins.
Preparing for Coming Winter Needs
As winter fast approaches, we’re trying to get heaters out to families in need who either don’t have one for some reason or have one so old that it’s beyond recoverable. The diesel-fueled pot belly stoves out here aren’t made to last long unfortunately. The sheet metal used to fabricate them often rusts out after a few years of use unless they get oiled and really well cleaned regularly. One old woman still has a heater we gave her almost seven years ago, she kept it well but it finally gave out on her this year, so we’ll be replacing it for her!
We are hoping before the end of the year to also distribute blankets, kids hats and baby wraps for infants. The kids hats and baby wraps have been mostly hand made by women in the church or local community. There are knit hats made from wool yarn and also fleece hats that we taught them how to sew using their sewing machines. These are some of the items the women’s sewing project has been focused on producing this year. We’re praying the Lord would bless these gifts to those who will receive them this winter!
A Brief Update on Afghan Evacuees
With everything else going on in the world, and even locally in our primary ministry, it can be easy to forget about the Afghan interpreters and their families that only two years ago had to flee for their lives after the US withdrawal. We posted earlier on our site about efforts to help some evacuees. The three main family groups we had focused on helping all got out of Afghanistan, though not all have made it into the USA.
In case you missed it from another update, one of the Afghan war widows we were trying to help was successfully relocated to America with her children last year. Another family that has a case approval pending with USCIS in the USA was being forced back into Afghanistan from Pakistan due to the mass deportation order the Pakistani government put out this month. They’d been waiting in Pakistan for their case to be approved. We’ve been advocating their case for over two years with various stages of progress and setbacks.
However, because of the open USCIS case that we’ve been helping them with, the US government stepped in and got them exempted by the Pakistani government from being deported. We were very thankful for that news! But still praying that the US system would get unclogged and their USCIS case moved forward before this family faces threat of deportation again into Afghanistan where they would certainly be targeted. Please keep praying for this Afghan family to finally be able to travel to the USA!
As Always, Thank You And Keep Praying!
With every need presented, we are praying the Lord would present an open door for the truth. Helping those in need is always only the first step towards something greater and even more needful. In addition to praying for peace (as we do daily!), keep praying God would keep doors open, and open new doors, in this tumultuous time in the Middle East. Moving ahead with normal ministry in an abnormal time is challenging, but it is what’s needed currently.
Thank you again for your prayers and support. This is a work bigger than any of us, but not bigger then God or His church! If you wish to be involved in any way, you can support TGI via our site, sign up for our relief updates e-mail newsletter to better know how to pray, or contact us if you are interested in knowing more about how to be personally involved.