Middle East (MNN) — You’ve heard plenty about the refugees in crisis from Syria and Iraq, but how much do you know about the missionaries who serve with them? Steve Vanvalkenburg of Christian Aid Mission says it’s easy to forget those who work in the trenches.
“We appreciate very much the heart they have for the Lord and the heart they have to reach out and help the refugees. But with that there [are] enormous needs and it takes a toll on the workers also.”
It takes faith to work among the hurting, and there are few places that radiate pain more than refugee camps.
“Not only do [the missionaries] have to face the issues they have in their homes with their families, personal issues, and health issues, but they have to regularly be listening to their woes and the problems of all the refugees. And typically a refugee, when they talk about their problems, they’re gonna talk about death and depressing things. They’re gonna talk about hopelessness, and they’ve lost everything…there’s maybe bitterness there, and obviously [they’ve] been through trauma. They’ve lost loved ones, they’ve seen people killed in front of them, they’ve been betrayed, and now they’re living in poverty. So they have all kinds of needs.”
With no law enforcement in the camps, it can make the area a very dangerous one. There are angry threats and suspicion around every corner. And the battle isn’t only material; there’s an unseen fight too.
“There’s a spiritual battle that you don’t see with your physical eyes, but the Christians feel that battle. They experience within their spirits that battle, which makes it a much harder situation than just dealing with the normal physical and emotional needs that the refugees have.”
But the missionaries aren’t giving up. In fact, Vanvalkenburg says many workers are excited about the unprecedented opportunity to reach a hopeless people with the love of Christ. And the more they reach out, the more dramatic their results.
“The one report that we sent talked about in the last two months 90 people within one ministry being baptized.”
That doesn’t mean everything’s easy though. For the missionaries, one of the hardest things is having to turn down a refugee simply because they lack the resources.
From healthcare to food items to basic home necessities, people under the care of the workers are struggling and need help. Sometimes Christian Aid Mission simply can’t cope with the numbers.
“That’s the reason we desire for donors to give funds; so we can send those ministries because that allows them to have a bridge to reach into lives and provide [for] basic needs they have.”
Want to help build that bridge? We’ll connect you right here.
In the meantime, one of the most powerful weapons the missionaries can use is your prayer.
“Once they have a bridge into their hearts, then as they share who Jesus Christ is and a God who cares for them, that gives them hope, and they have never had hope before.”