Refugee/Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) Appeal - March 2019

Rob, Julie, Rola, Grace, Marilyn, Steve

Rob, Julie, Rola, Grace, Marilyn, Steve

Up the dingy stairway to a small and unremarkable second floor apartment we went, as we almost always do when we come to Beirut. Here in this crowded Christian suburb of Bouchrieh (Booch-REE-ah) is one of our precious partners in God’s mission – the Our Lady Dispensary. A few of our Outreach Foundation team, who would soon head into Syria, had come a day early: Julie and Steve Burgess, Rob Weingartner and myself. For our short time together with Grace Boustani, the social worker who oversees this mission of the Middle East Council of Churches, and with Rola Al Kattar, a volunteer who conducts the trauma healing program with children, we lived into the promise put forth on the plaque which adorns the pale green wall of the narrow entry hallway: You Will Be Blessed …

Indeed, we were blessed, both coming and going. Perhaps, more significantly, so are the thousands of refugees – many of them Christian – from Syria and Iraq who have come to this place of hope and healing and help over the years – and YOUR gifts have been a vehicle for those blessings, my friends.

Despite the restoration of (relative) peace in both places, many of those who left cannot go back. Their homes and livelihoods are still in ruin and the “horizon of return” is very far away, if it comes at all. In early December, you responded generously to our appeal and the reminder that for these vulnerable ones (mostly middle-class families, like yours and mine) the reality that “winter is coming” was a frightening prospect. Grace supplied this insight into the impact of your gifts:

We graciously want to thank you for your generous donation of $10,000 which served many Syrian and Iraqi families during this winter season. Refugees have been residing in Lebanon for many years due to several conflicts in their home country. Life in Lebanon is hard for them as they are unable to legally work and therefore struggle with paying for basic needs such as food, clothing, and items to winterize their homes. This is why your donation was so special and needed.

The donation provided food and hygiene supplies, clothing, blankets, heaters, medication and financial support for emergency cases during the period of Christmas. The donation targeted this time specifically children and elderly adults.

Unlike many aid organizations who dispense actual goods, Grace has developed trusted relationships with local stores so that those in need can be given a voucher which allows them a say in the selection of the items. This also gives them some dignity and is a small reminder of what it felt like (and, we pray, will yet again) when they were able to provide for themselves and their families, with this tiny dignity-restoring act of choice.

But as we have become too painfully aware, the impact of these devastating displacements from one’s home and country are not just physical and material, but also emotional and spiritual. To that end, Rola Al Kattar, using materials and training by the Bible Society, has conducted a number of multi-week trauma-healing sessions for children who have experienced the unimaginable horrors of war, which includes the internal stresses of their families who are attempting to cope with war’s aftermath. During our visit, Rola was just finishing up another series which brought together Iraqi and Syrian children. Some, but not all, of these little ones are Christian, but the stories, games and lessons which offer an assurance of a loving God are all taken from the Bible. “Wonderful children,” Rola shared. “I am so happy to serve them.”

With gratitude for you and the blessing you have been to all of these broken ones and to those who serve them in Christ’s name,

Marilyn Borst
Associate Director for Partnership Development

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

Read more about the Refugee/IDP Appeal HERE.