Taking care of people—in Jesus’ name
Because of these experiences, Pastor George’s church was ready to respond when Turkey sent troops into northern Syria in late 2019—and again when the coronavirus pandemic took root in Syria.
During the Turkish incursion, through the help and prayers of Open Doors supporters, Pastor George was able to minister on the ground immediately, even as bombs fell on his city. “We visited these families and encouraged them, some of those we offered cash support and give them coupons for food,” he remembers. “Some of the displaced families came to Qamishli, [and] they only had the clothes they were wearing when they fled. It was so cold in the camps where they first stayed. We helped them with warm clothes like jackets, socks—and some children we helped with shoes, as they came without. How could we show the love of God to them when we wouldn’t meet their most basic needs? In the letter of James, we learn that we should give people food to eat, that we should clothe them.”
After the Turkish incursion, Pastor George’s original plan for 2020 was to reduce the emergency food distribution and give only to the poorest and neediest. But when the coronavirus pandemic hit Syria, the church saw a need it knew it had to fill.
“At first, we stopped distributing relief packages,” Pastor George says. “But when we saw the increased need, we restarted the distribution. We gave people food and washing detergent coupons. Our church saw that now was a time to stand by the people, support them and show Jesus’ love in difficult times.
“We’re trying to help as much as we can with the means we have,” he told Open Doors last spring. “People are hungry. Some called me crying because they have no food for their kids and families. Especially displaced families who have no relatives here, so they can’t even ask to borrow money from anyone, just to keep them alive until this crisis ends. We’re in dire need of funds to support a larger number of families.”