Refugee/IDP Appeal - July 2016 Update

In the midst of multiple crises unfolding in the Middle East, The Outreach Foundation has used your generous gifts to strengthen the hands of Christian partners in the region. They are the face of Christ to many who have lost everything…

Siham and Jeries Abd Rabbo are a Palestinian couple from Bethlehem who are serving Muslim refugees on behalf of the Shepherd Society – the mission outreach of Bethlehem Bible College. With support from The Outreach Foundation, this dynamic husband and wife team have built a busy ministry visiting homes of refugees (90 homes just in the month of May!). During their visits, people often ask about Jesus and the cross. Jeries is discipling many families whose lives are changing for the better. They are feeling happier and less stressed knowing that they have someone who cares about them. Recently, Jeries prayed for a man who was sent by the Jordanians to Al Azrak camp because they caught him working. This man suffers from seizures, and there is no one with him to help him. When Jeries went back to visit the family again, the wife told him, “Now I know that your prayer is answered because after you prayed, my husband came back home and he is with us now.” They asked for Jeries’ prayers as they have been unable to conceive, and while he was praying the wife began to cry because she felt the presence of the Lord during prayer. Another man shared how he was taken into custody and tortured. After he finished sharing, he said “I want to tell you something; I don’t know why I shared my story with you. I had not told anyone about it, but when you came into my home, I felt safety and peace. Because of that, I felt I could be open to you and tell you things that I have not told others.” 

Siham has a speech therapy ministry with 22 children. She spends one hour a week with each child. Some of the children have hearing problems, some have learning disabilities, and others are mentally disabled. The lessons are going very well, and it is very encouraging that the children love to attend their class. Their parents asked her to continue classes even during the month of Ramadan. Siham started counseling a girl that tried to commit suicide several times. She had gotten married at age 15 and had her first child at 16. Now at the age of 18, she has already been divorced for a year – after receiving a text notice of divorce from her husband! The sessions with her are going well. She has started to take care of herself, is eating better food, and is beginning to feel that she is worthy of life and a future.

Jeries and Siham are also helping to support sewing classes for Syrian women who are learning to do embroidery and are earning money for their work. They praise God that many are feeling the Spirit of Jesus Christ through their lives. “For all of this,” say Jeries and Siham, “we give the thanks to our Lord who has changed our lives and is using us to serve these wounded and destroyed families, and to help give them better life… He sent his Holy Spirit before us to the houses, to open the doors and prepare their ears to hear about Jesus.” 

At the OLD, programs for the children of refugee families are a high priority.

At the OLD, programs for the children of refugee families are a high priority.

Formed in 1983 in the midst of the Lebanese Civil War in a poor Christian suburb of Beirut to provide aid to the poor and to those driven from their homes, the Our Lady Dispensary (OLD) has responded to successive disasters which have hit the region. The Outreach Foundation is helping this ministry as they meet some of the needs of hundreds of Syrian and Iraqi families who are part of this newest wave of refugees – many of whom are in the midst of a very long wait while the UNHCR (the UN Refugee Agency) works the process of finding them a new home outside of the region. Recently, Grace Boustani, a kindly, caring and Christ-like social worker who directs the OLD, shared the story of Akram:

Akram always wore a gold cross necklace. It was an heirloom that became part of his identity in his community and in his own eyes. The day before Grace visited him, he had to sell the necklace for food and rent money. He and his wife had been driven out of Mosul by ISIS, along with their two adult children, one of whom also has a wife and three kids. All eight of them lived together in a small apartment on the outskirts of Beirut until the landlord said they were over the flat’s capacity. The son and his family moved out to a neighborhood that is 20 minutes away by car, where the son found a job as a concierge.    

At $600 a month, the rent was manageable when the families lived together since they could pool their multiple incomes. But now that the son was gone, Akram couldn’t keep up with payments. The Outreach Foundation has supported Akram and his family since January 2015 by giving them food coupons on a monthly basis and financial assistance with their rent.

Akram has diabetes and high cholesterol. Trauma has led to other health problems, and he said he always feels tired. He is searching for a job that is suitable for his age and health condition. “I could do doorman duties,” he suggested. When asked if they hope to return to Iraq, they said no. “We left very quickly,” said Akram. “We cannot go back…” 

Marilyn Borst
Associate Director for Partnership Development   
The news coverage of the largely-Middle Eastern refugee crisis which continues 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 their neighbors – Christian, Muslim and Yazidi – who have had to flee to a safer area in their own country or find a haven across a nearby border. Through these efforts in all of these places, 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,” and we invite you to continue with us on this journey of accompaniment. 

Gifts for the Refugee/IDP Appeal may be made by sending a check to our main office or by clicking HERE.