It is amazing to think that it has been over a year since the initial relief efforts to help war refugees from Iraq & Syria. So much has changed in the region and the needs, and yet in some ways things remain the same for millions of refugees. They are still displaced from their homes. They still have little hope of returning to “normal” life in their war-torn and divided countries. They are still squatting in make-shift camps, tents, huts or rented rooms with 3-5 families crammed in a home meant for one. While the world superpowers haggle over the future of the region, the refugees are left to survive another winter in countries that are increasingly opposed to their continued presence.
The Plan This Winter
There are becoming less ‘new’ refugees coming over the borders these days into the neighboring countries we have worked in. Many are on their second, third or even fourth winter away from home. They have learned to survive the harsh realities of being an unwanted people living on the margins of their host society, and have made it through the years. But every year there is an increased burden upon them financially to find some way to provide heat during the dead of winter. In this part of the world electricity is sporadic and unreliable unless you can pay for a generator, a luxury beyond the reach of most refugees. While we may be used to just plugging in a heater in our own homes to stay warm, over in this region that option is not realistic or reliable. You might have your heater going for a few hours at best, then the power goes out for the rest of the night as the temperatures drop. The only way to stay warm and survive the bitter months ahead is via gas or oil fueled heaters.
We are currently planning to work directly with some small refugee groups, as well as with a local pastor helping several hundred Syrian refugee families in a region of the Middle East that regularly drops into the 30s or lower and sees snow at times. It was cold enough during the visit last week to need a winter hat and jacket, and some of the newer refugee families bundled up in winter clothes were eagerly waiting for some donated heaters to be delivered. While some refugees are enduring their first winter away from home and need help even getting the basic heater units, many simply need help with fuel each month until the spring. We are thankful that the Lord already provided the means for us to purchase 15 heaters for the families in this refugee area, and another 10 are planned for distribution to another place in the mountains soon as well. As for the regularly monthly help for heating oil to these many families, we are praying perhaps the Lord would provide the ‘widows cruse’ as He did with Elijah, and make it possible somehow to have just enough to help them through each month to March.
Pray For Open Doors
Please pray that the small efforts to help these refugees would provide an open door into their lives. Some of them are Christians from Syria, as there was a population of Baptists in Homs, Syria that fled the fighting as well and came to this particular area. Some of them are Muslims or other religious groups native to that region, all brought together in the same shared difficulty they face after fleeing their country. Many do come to the various churches involved in helping them and listen to what’s being taught. Pray for open doors and open hearts in this part of the world!