Syria (MNN) — Syrian Kurds may have disappeared from many global news headlines, but that doesn’t mean their crisis is over. Northern Syria still isn’t safe, but some Kurds are heading back. According to USAID, roughly half of the displaced Kurdish population has returned home so far, though this figure is disputed.
Others remain in Lebanon, home of Horizons International. As local believers help Kurdish refugees, they share the Gospel. Nihad, Horizons’ Director of Kurdish Ministries, says those who become Christ-followers want to reach more of their people for Him.
“Just like Jesus was raising up His disciples and training them so that they could [go] out to plant [churches], that’s what we need to be doing for these Kurdish believers.”
Why do Kurds need help?
In October, Turkey’s invasion into northern Syria drove more than 200,000 people – many of them Kurdish – into surrounding countries. Those who trekked to Lebanon joined a growing community of Kurdish refugees.
“There’s a big number that… have come to Lebanon in the past year and a half; between 300- and 400,000,” Nihad says. More about Horizons’ Kurdish ministry. “When we serve [Kurds] we try to care for their needs just like [Christ] says in the Bible: ‘I was hungry and you fed Me; I was a stranger and you took Me in’.”
As Kurdish refugees see Christ’s love in action, they begin warming to His message. “Before, there was a lot that would resist the Gospel, but now not as much,” Nihad says. Believers’ kind words and actions stand in stark contrast to the actions of those who follow the majority religion.
“[Kurds are] saying that the Christians didn’t attack us; the Christians didn’t rape our women and steal our things,” he continues.
“They’re seeing the genocide that Turkey is doing in the name of Islam… they’re seeing a big difference between the Muslims and the Christians [and] how they treat the Kurds.”
Horizons equips Kurdish believers
Though receiving Christ provides Kurds with eternal life and new reason to hope, present-day challenges remain. For example, “whether in Lebanon or Syria or Iraq, our children are being registered as Muslims” when they attend school, Nihad says.
“We want to have the right to register them according to our beliefs, which are Christian beliefs.”
A desire for religious freedom and the daily struggle of refugee life causes many Kurds to emigrate. Out of the 30 Kurdish families who came to Christ through Horizons’ outreach recently, 12 cannot pay for their children’s education. “For that reason, they’re thinking about emigrating. But…those could be 12 churches that are planted because they’re believing Kurdish families,” Nihad says.
“We encourage the believers that are coming to Christ here… to go back to their regions and tell about Jesus.”
“Pray that we’d be able to support more full-time ministers who are Kurdish so that we can [send] them to different places where Kurds exist in Lebanon and Syria.”
Header image is a map of Kurdistan obtained via Wikimedia Commons. Map credit CIA World Factbook.