Refugee/Internally Displaced Persons Appeal - June 2018
They are the most vulnerable of the Syrian refugees in Lebanon, these babies…
Izdihar Kassis, director of an outreach ministry called Together, for the Family, met Muhammad when he was only one month old. His family had fled Aleppo and ended up in the Beqaa Valley in western Lebanon. His father found part-time work in construction, but the only home they could afford was a tent – leaky and cold – on top of an apartment building. The mother had to undergo a C-section since there were some complications during Muhammad’s delivery. The United Nations helped with birth expenses, but the family didn’t have resources for Muhammad’s basic needs like milk and diapers.
Baby Elena’s mother, Nisreen, is also from Aleppo. She moved to Lebanon after the conflict in her area grew intense. In Syria she met a Christian man, fell in love with him, and got married. The couple was not allowed to register their marriage in Syria because of their different religions. Nisreen’s family banished her and threatened to kill her for her shameful doing. Elena’s father was working very hard to ensure they had a house and all the family’s needs before Elena’s birth. Unfortunately, he died in a car accident leaving behind a lonely six-month pregnant woman. Elena was born to a single mother with no one to care for them except Nisreen’s younger brother, who had traveled illegally to Europe by boat. The money he sends is barely enough to provide for food.
Amjad’s family are Christians from the suburbs of Homs. Their house was attacked and the father was shot in the head and badly injured. Unable to find a safe haven in Syria, they came to Lebanon where Amjad was born. With three other children and a now-disabled husband, Amjad’s mother works hard as a maid and house cleaner, but her small salaries are not enough to provide for the nutritional needs of a growing baby.
Together, for the Family’s Baby Ministry serves both the infant and his/her family for one year, providing nutrition for the baby but much, much more for the family. Groups of 15 women and their babies meet once a month with Ms. Kassis and her volunteers and staff. The love of God is shared through prayer and the Word (often this is their first encounter with the concept of a caring God), and counseling for the trauma of war is offered. Advice on raising healthy families is shared. The infants receive diapers, formula, clothes, and blankets as well as medicine and medical care when needed. Izdihar recognizes that this short-term ministry carries long-term blessing: “Mothers will be able to reflect deeply on what happened in their lives, to understand it and overcome the obstacles towards a normal lifestyle. Babies will get a healthy start to their lives. We will be able to build strong bonds with the needy refugees and their families. The whole family will have the chance to receive the good news about the love of our Lord.”
What a redemptive ministry for those whose lives have been devastated by war! May God bring healing and hope through the practical and persistent presence of Izdihar Kassis through Together, for the Family. And may Christ be glorified as the “least of these” are cared for.
Marilyn Borst, Associate Director for Partnership Development
Gifts for Together, for the Family, part of our Refugee/IDP Appeal, may be made HERE or by sending a check to our main office.