Lebanon (MNN) — Syrian refugees in Lebanon’s Beqaa Valley emerge from the worst snowstorm in decades.
The same system compounded challenges for refugees scattered throughout the region. According to the United Nations, 6.2 million Syrians are internally displaced, while 5.7 million have registered as refugees in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.
Piles of heavy snow collapsed tent walls and roofs. “We went in with our team and shoveled off roofs, fixed two-by-four ceilings, and got [the tents] livable again,” Heart for Lebanon’s Tom Atema says.
“Locals tell us this is the worst snowstorm they’ve seen since 1985.”
Winter brings snow to this region every year, “but usually not to this degree. [It’s] very unusual to get this much snow in one snowstorm, plus the bitter cold on top of it,” Atema says.
Plus, when you’re a refugee living far below the poverty line, winterization supplies cost more than a typical budget allows. Atema asks, “When you have nothing, and the best you can do [to construct a home] is a couple of two-by-fours and some tarps thrown over the top… how can you prepare for snow?”
Assistance opens doors for the Gospel
Along with the home repair, Heart for Lebanon teams provide food aid to refugees in need. “We don’t give out milk, bread, meat, and those kinds of things, but we do provide food assistance to some 4,500 families every month,” Atema says.
Believers’ help is a tangible expression of Christ’s love and compassion, and it soon leads to Gospel conversations. “Within a short period, they’ll [ask] us, ‘Why are you helping me? Why are you providing this aid?” Atema says.
“‘Nobody else is helping me. If they help me, they want something in return almost immediately. You’ve never asked for anything.’ Well, that’s because it’s the love of Jesus Christ.”
Support Heart for Lebanon’s work here. Pray refugees will seek to know Christ after experiencing His kindness through believers.
“Estimates say 58-percent of the total population of Lebanon has never heard the name of Jesus. It (providing aid) allows us to invite them to a Bible study,” Atema says.
“Before long, not all but most come to faith in Jesus Christ, and then we start our discipleship program.”
Header and story images courtesy of Heart for Lebanon.