Syria (MNN) — As the West mulls over a military response to the Syrian government’s abuses, Syrians are surging toward any place that seems safer than home.
The Lebanese government says there are now a million Syrians crammed into the country, and the best estimates are: that’s more than 10,000 Syrians entering each day.
Jeff Palmer is the Executive Director at Baptist Global Response. We caught up with him in Lebanon after he visited a couple of the work sites near the Syrian border with Lebanon. “A couple of days ago, one of the men we talked to came out with 20 children…children that weren’t his children. He came out with his children, and his nieces and nephews. I said, ‘Where are their parents?’ He said, ‘We don’t know.’ That story: you can multiply it over a million times, literally.”
According to the United Nations refugee agency, with tensions ratcheting up a notch, the number of refugees has increased ten-fold with more than 2 million now seeking sanctuary anywhere that will have them. Palmer says, “It does put a stress on the infrastructure: food, jobs. A lot of people think they’re coming for a short period of time, but like we said before, this has been going on for a couple of years.”
Essentially, people are living under siege without the basic necessities of life. If goods can be found for sale, they are not affordable. Many basic resources have been rationed, including electricity, water, and heating oil.
BGR is partnering with local churches to help meet basic needs by providing food parcels, medicines, and hygiene items for affected families. Pray for protection for partners as they distribute these items.
In one area Palmer visited, he says they’re helping a small community of about 70 to 80 families. Just in the last week alone, that number doubled. As they came out, “They said, ‘Nobody else is helping us. And yet, you followers of Jesus are here and helping us.’ I sat and watched our national partners give bread, give oil, give vegetables, and give some shelter, also share with them verbally about the love of Jesus Christ. ”
Even as Palmer mulled over the way their partners were meeting physical and spiritual needs, a woman came up to him and pleaded her case. Christians and non-Christians alike are less concerned with the politics of the world stage and are just trying to survive the day. The woman who spoke with Palmer put it simply: “‘Please tell the people of the world that we’re suffering. Please, help us. Please, help us!’”
Palmer said her desperation stuck with him. “It really tore at my heart, to see what kind of conditions folks are living in, and to heed their plea. I don’t think they’re concerned about factions or the political things that are there. They’re just concerned about finding food, shelter, and safe places for their families.”
Pray that these refugees will be encouraged and not lose heart. They have endured difficult times in Syria and now face even harder times as refugees. Ask God to keep softening people’s hearts toward the hope of Christ. Pray for peace to be restored.