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Damascus Church Reaching Out to Refugees

April 17, 2013 by Open Doors in General


More than 1.3 million Syrians have fled their war-torn country, according to the latest figures from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Additionally, the number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Syria is over 2 million.

Syrians remaining in their embattled cities are in dire need of assistance. In partnership with local churches, Open Doors (OD) is helping to provide aid to over 3,000 families throughout Syria. The Alliance Church in Damascus is one such partner. Open Doors recently spoke with Alliance Church pastor Edward Awabdeh. “The fighting gets closer and closer to where the church is located,” says Awabdeh. “Many people see no light at the end of the tunnel. Things are getting worse, with more fighting and bloodshed.”

Working alongside Alliance Church, OD has been supporting many Christian families since April 2012, assisting with the facilitating of food, supplies, medical assistance and occasional financial support by paying the rent for apartments that provide temporary shelter for the homeless.

Refugees often arrive in Damascus with only the clothes they can carry; only to find that there is no work and no income for them. Two or three families often cram into a single apartment to share the costs.

Families fleeing to Damascus are visited by church team members and registered with the church. After the visiting team assesses the family’s situation, material for the relief packages has to be bought.

“It is risky, yes,” says Awabdeh. “When you need to drive through the city you run a high risk. Roads are closed. Twenty-four hours a day there is shooting and shelling.”

Procuring the materials has been difficult, the pastor explains. “Sometimes it takes two weeks to have enough of a product. Sometimes we do this in unconventional ways. For example, instead of buying cooking oil in small bottles, we buy it in gallons and we fill bottles with oil to distribute. For many products we have to go to the outskirts of the city, and that is very risky. Sometimes we make agreements that we pay something extra to have people bring the products, and then it is their risk.”

In spite of the danger, ministry goes on. Last week the church opened a new distribution center, and the ministry is now able to help hundreds of additional families.
“We thank the Lord for all the people that are praying for us. We feel the effect of that; we feel supported by that, personally and on the ministry level,” says Awabdeh. “This is the time for the church to help; time to support the refugees. Who else can give hope and spread peace than the Lord?”

“We see how the gospel, the message of Christ, fits in the suffering. Love touches the deepest wounds. It is a tool to open hearts….open hearts for the gospel.”

Father, we praise You that even in these dark times in Syria, where the evil of war seems to continue unrestrained, even there Your presence is a light of hope. Thank You for Your faithful church serving the needs of the community in Your name. We pray Your protection over them as they travel outside the city to obtain supplies, and we pray that You will provide the resources they need in ways that clearly proclaim that You have done it. Be their hope in otherwise hopeless circumstances. And may Your love, as experienced through the love and compassion of Your church, open hearts for the gospel to enter in and claim new followers of Christ. In the name of Jesus, the source of love and compassion, Amen.

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