Jordan (MNN) — Thousands of refugees are stranded in what’s become a “no man’s land” along Jordan’s northern border with Syria.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) says there are triple the number of Syrians trapped in freezing, deteriorating humanitarian conditions waiting to be granted entry since the Russian air strikes began. A government spokesman estimated that 12,000 have been stuck in the wasteland, with roughly 50 to 100 refugees being allowed into Jordan each day, prioritized to women, children, and elderly and sick people.
This is on top of the roughly one million other Syrians already living in Jordan, many of whom fled Mr. Assad’s response to the Arab Spring in 2011. Jordan is now hosting an additional 633,000 of the 4.39 million Syrians registered as refugees with the UN. What’s more, if the refugees are not admitted and helped, their lives will be at risk in the coming months.
Greg Musselman, a spokesman for the Voice of the Martyrs Canada, explains, “You see these people come in and they really have no status. It’s similar to what’s going on in Turkey where you have massive numbers of refugees that come into these places. They can’t work; they can barely survive.”
These masses began shifting when the self-proclaimed Islamic State (ISIS) declared war on all non-Muslims and those who will not follow their hardline jihadist strategies. As their troops and ideology spread throughout Iraq and Syria, millions fled before the onslaught. Christians are particularly endangered and face a hard decision: flee their homes immediately and leave everything they own behind, or stay and face certain death.
A little over half of Jordan’s humanitarian refugee needs have been met, but as the needs grow, more help is required. To put the overcrowding into perspective, Jordan is slightly smaller than Indiana. “I think a lot of them have given up that there will be a soan. and nlution any time soon, especially in Syria, especially where you have Saudi Arabia and Now the world’s attention is focused on that rather than on the refugee crisis,” adds Musselman.
They’ve survived the unthinkable only to find their lives put on an indefinite hold. “Children can’t go to school, [or] in many cases, university. Jobs: you can’t work there–maybe very minimal type of work that they can get, if at all. It’s a hard situation; so for many of them, the focus is on getting to another country.”
The church is compassionately embracing them and demonstrating the love of Jesus. VOMC’s team worked with in-country ministry partners to distribute 3,000 Christmas Blessing packages ($25 for each package). “We’re giving children backpacks, food for families, encouraging them. [We’re] also identifying key people that are there, that are doing evangelistic work and strengthening their church,” specifically for the purpose of blessing the children of displaced Christian families, explains Musselman.
Each carefully-assembled package includes various practical necessities, as well as a picture Bible and toy to remind the children that they are loved, being upheld in prayer and, most of all, not forgotten.
These churches VOMC helps are surrounded by refugees. They’ve been at it for years, since the first waves started appearing five years ago. One of the pastors admitted, “We’re just tired because we’re inundated trying to help these people.” Theirs is a service that does not go unnoticed. They’re helping the refugees find places to live, providing them food, encouragement, and getting involved in discipleship.
Musselman observes, “It’s amazing, really, what God is doing in the amount of people from Muslim backgrounds and historic Christian backgrounds that didn’t have a personal faith in Jesus. They’re coming to know the Lord.”
VOMC is also providing ministry training for Christian leaders so they will be better equipped to meet the tremendous spiritual needs of those residing in this country. “Many of them are traumatized,” explains Musselman. “Almost everybody we talked to had seen just absolutely horrible things, [including] the destruction and losing everything that they had, in terms of possession on this earth.
Pray that God would provide church leaders and others to Jordan to continue His work in the nation. “We also need to be praying they can find a safe place and continue to pray that the world leaders will get together and settle down what’s going on in Syria so that many of these people can return to their homes.”