Refugees find healthcare, comfort at church clinic

By April 14, 2011

Middle East (MNN) — The recent political and humanitarian turmoil of the Middle East has created a host of needs. As conditions get increasingly worse in various countries throughout the region, many are fleeing.

A church in one relatively stable Mideast nation has become a beacon of hope and health for many who have fled.

Refugees have poured into this undisclosed nation for years. More than a million Iraqi refugees–Sunnis, Shiites and Christians–have flooded in over the past dozen years. Others have fled from Egypt and Palestine. Many seek refugee status from the United Nations and permanent residency in the U.S. or elsewhere.

For most refugees, money is scarce, unemployment is high, and schooling is unreliable. Thus, healthcare is more or less out of the question.

In 1998, the church asked an American internist and pediatrician to host a monthly free clinic for Christians attending the church. With the support of ReachGlobal, the international missions arm of the Evangelical Free Church of America, the clinic was able to open twice a month, once a week, and now twice a week. Each Monday and Thursday, the small clinic sees about 50 patients.

The clinic quickly began attracting far more than just Iraqi Christians, however. Now patients from numerous other countries and religious backgrounds pour in, looking for health services but often encouragement as well.

The clinic has treated all sorts of medical dilemmas. One young man recently came in with severe asthma, which had been ineffectively treated with steroids for 10 years. The clinic was able to provide him with medication and a breathing chamber that have significantly improved his health status.

Another recent patient was brought in by his mother. The boy had been raped by another man. The clinic was able to treat his injuries and send him to a specialist, who wrote a report to the court system.

No matter how severe or how treatable a case seems to be, the clinic staff is able to encourage and comfort patients by showing them Christ's love. Many patients–Christians and Muslims alike–just come to the clinic and ask staff members to pray for them. One staff member noted that many tell the staff, "You're the only people who have ever treated us as something more than dogs."

The clinic is of course limited in what they can do for those who seek their medical advice. A 10-year-old girl who needs corrective surgery for a dislocated lens on her eye will be unable to get it without finding someone who will pay the $2,800 to get the surgery. The small clinic simply does not have the resources to carry out such a project.

Funding has been at an all-time low for this clinic, so pray for donations. ReachGlobal sponsors most of the clinic's costs, but the recent recession dropped clinic donations to less than half of what they once were. You can help by giving a one-time gift for surgeries like the young girl's eye surgery, or you can help provide for the clinic's basic needs.

Clinic staff continue to be a light in a dark place regardless. The clinic makes no secret of its Christian affiliation, despite the fact that it resides in a 95-percent Sunni Muslim nation. Pray that staff would continue to bring Christ's peace to many, and that every person who walks in would walk out with a drive to know more about the Lord Almighty.

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