Refugee/IDP Appeal - February 2016
As this new year begins, The Outreach Foundation celebrates your generosity in responding to our Refugee/IDP (Internally Displaced Person) Appeal. Your gifts of over $99,000 have allowed us to undergird the ministry of our partners in the Middle East as they work to renew hope and healing in Christ’s name, such as the Middle East Council of Churches (MECC). The following story was shared by Ms. Wafa Gassous, Director of MECC in Jordan…
“I answered an unidentified number on my mobile phone,” Wafa began, “and heard a tender female voice, apologizing that someone had given her my number. She went on to explain that she is a Muslim, and that she is calling ‘the churches.’ ” This mother of six had fled the fighting in Syria three years ago, along with her husband, her children (including a one-week old infant), and her aging father-in-law. Sick and cold, they barely made it to Za’atari and a refugee camp just across the border in Jordan but left after three months because they feared for the safety of their two teenage daughters. They were now in Amman, living in a basement flat. Their only source of income is the food vouchers they are being given by the UNHCR (United Nations High Commission on Refugees), and most of those go to pay the $190 per month in rent.
The flat was cold and damp but clean – and devoid of hardly any furniture except one chair and a few mattresses. Wafa and her team had brought winter coats, mittens, socks and some clothing. “One of the little daughters, Gazel, was so beautiful and she dressed her little sister, Haneen, in the new clothes,” said Wafa. “The two older girls hid in their room, their mother explaining to me that they were scared all the time and rarely left the house. Then the grandfather came out from his room and sat on the only chair that is in the house. I greeted him and bowed to kiss his hand (an Arab tradition when you greet very old people, as a sign of respect), but he pulled his hand away [as if unworthy]. I said ‘please accept from us this humble gift.’ Grandpa started crying, and our world began to spin: soon our team, his grandchildren, his son – everybody – was silently crying, standing in this empty house….”
Even in the midst of their poverty, hospitality was shown, as the mother prepared tea out of her meager supplies – and an expression of gratitude for the kindnesses shown. Wafa’s team would soon return with nine mattresses, blankets and a heater. A small fridge and carpets for the stone-cold floor are on their way.
The tears of the grandfather have stuck with Wafa, whose career in relief work has exposed her to many, many fragments of broken lives. But it was also the words of the grandfather that have resonated. As Wafa attempted to minister to this weeping old man, she told him, “Do not cry; there are many people who care about you and will not leave you.” He replied, “May the Cross be with you…”
The Cross had shown up that day to this broken Muslim family, through the loving witness of Wafa and her team. “As you have done it to the least of these, you have done it to me…”
Associate Director of Partnership Development
The news coverage of the largely-Middle Eastern refugee crisis unfolding in Europe has brought shocking images, inescapably, into our homes, and many want to help. The unsettling reality of this situation is that most of the refugees have not made it out of the Middle East and have become the humanitarian burden of nearby countries. When you compound the crisis with 3.5 million internally displaced persons in Iraq and 7.6 million IDPs in Syria, you will appreciate why The Outreach Foundation has chosen to focus our efforts on finding resources for our church partners in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Jordan to care for neighbors – Christian, Muslim and Yazidis – who have had to flee to a safer area in their own country or find a haven across a nearby border. In all these places and through all these efforts, Christ is glorified and his name made known. The church in these places is a bright light in darkness and a word of hope in the swirl of despair. We hear Paul’s words “do not grow weary in well doing.” We invite you to continue with us on this journey of accompaniment. Gifts for the Refugee/IDP Appeal may be made by clicking HERE or by mailing a check to our Franklin office.