Witnessing the Middle East Refugee Crisis, American Christians Choose to Be Neighbors
As the Middle East refugee crisis continues, your help enables local Christians to meet needs—both physical and spiritual.
Fadi* lived with his wife, daughter, and two sons in a city in Northern Iraq. In August 2014, ISIS militants entered their city and violently oppressed anyone who stood against them. That day holds very dark memories for Fadi’s family. As they were fleeing, they passed the dead bodies of many of their family members and neighbors, strewn all over the streets.
By Matthew Shareff. This story originally appeared in our Fall 2016 magazine.
Amar, along with his wife and three children, also lived in Northern Iraq. They owned a house, cars, and a business, and lived a comfortable life. In 2014, ISIS militants entered their village and started bombing surrounding areas, forcing them to flee. They saw members of their family die in front their eyes. Amar said, “We saw separated body parts and blood all over the place. No one should have to experience that.”
Of course, the experiences of Fadi and Amar and their families have been repeated thousands of times over. During the last five years, over eight million Syrians and Iraqis have fled ISIS terrorism and civil war in Syria. They’ve been forced to leave behind all they have ever known and run towards a deeply uncertain future. Refugees have flooded into surrounding nations, such as Jordan, overwhelming local relief efforts. The host governments are desperately struggling to meet the most basic needs of these deeply hurting people.
Seeking shelter and substance
Fadi and Amar’s families arrived in Jordan in June 2016, seeking safety, hope, and a better future. There, ANM’s Jordanian partner ministry provided them with mattresses, propane gas tanks, clothes, diapers, food, and hygiene packages (among other basic necessities)—much of which came from ANM’s warehouse.
The families were very grateful. Since fleeing ISIS, every day was a struggle to survive. Receiving these basic necessities allowed them to move towards a more hopeful future. They know that without this help, they may not have made it.
ANM’s partners’ aid extends beyond their initial contact with these refugees. This August was the beginning of a new school year for many refugee children. Thousands found themselves continuing their education at new, unfamiliar schools in a strange land. Many of them lacked basic school supplies, adding to the seemingly endless challenges they already had to overcome.
Through the help of ANM’s Warehouse for the Nations and other organizations, our Jordanian partner was able to provide for these children’s needs. This August they provided backpacks to 300 Iraqi refugee children. Each bag contained notebooks, pencils, and a water bottle. Each child also received a package that contained clothes, a pair of shoes, toy, and children’s books. Though we may consider such gifts simple or trivial, to these children they were invaluable. These gifts said “Someone cares,” and enabled them to carry on in their harsh and often overwhelming situation.
Loving your neighbor
In these refugee stories, we see Christians compassionately providing for strangers who have fallen victim to injustice and evil. This desire to help those in need, even those we don’t know, and even some we might consider our enemies, is a passion that ANM and its American supporters share with the Christians on the ground in the Middle East. ANM warehouse co-director Lynn Parker says, “Our Christian partners have the heart to do the work, but not the means. They can’t do it alone. As fellow members of the body of Christ, we want to help them, so they can help these people.”
This is why, up to now, ANM’s warehouse has shipped 25 containers of supplies to our Middle-Eastern ministry partners. Each of these 40-foot containers has been filled to the brim with basic necessities such as non-perishable food, clothing, furniture, toiletries, and other necessities that refugees like Fadi and Amar left behind when they were forced to flee. Upon arrival, the goods are distributed by our ministry partners based on the need of each individual or family.
While providing desperately needed relief, ANM’s ministry partners share the good news with all who are willing to listen. As a result, many have come to know and find faith in the love and kindness of Jesus our Lord and Savior. God is working through both ANM and its Middle-East partners, healing and meeting needs in even the darkest, most depressing situations.
Jesus Christ teaches that being a “neighbor” has nothing to do with where we live, or with race or religious affiliation. It has to do with seeing and meeting a need in a human being anywhere, anytime, and the value we all have as God’s beloved creatures made in His image.
A simple response to the Middle East refugee crisis
You can come alongside these Middle-East Christians as they strive to aid “the least of these.” Provide funds for items and shipping costs by donating here. If you want to get more personally involved, you can purchase and ship items from our Iraq and Jordan collection lists. Our Amazon wish list makes it very easy to help without worrying about shipping. It’s a simple way to reach around the world and be a “neighbor,” knowing exactly what you’re providing.
Visit our Collect page to see current needs and find a way you can be part of the response.
* Names have been altered to protect the families involved.
Matthew Shareff just finished his internship with ANM’s media advocacy team. Thank you, Matt!