Middle East (MNN) — Refugees were planning their journey home to Afrin, Syria when things took an unexpected turn for the worse.
“Just when people thought that everything was settling down in Northern Syria, we unfortunately had a new wave of violence,” says Pierre Houssney of Horizons International.
Many Christian refugees happen to be from Afrin, and one of the things they wanted to do when they returned home was to establish new churches. At first, things seemed peaceful enough that they could follow through.
“Everything had been pretty politically stable there for a long time, and they felt like it was now a time that they could go back,” Houssney said. “Unfortunately, within a week of that, there were huge bombings and Turkish army attacks on Afrin.”
The area collapsed politically, extremist groups raided homes and buildings, and local families were forced to flee.
“Hundreds of thousands of people who thought they had finally weathered the entire war and thought they were in the clear were now on the road by foot and being crammed into brand new displaced refugee camps in Syria.
Now, as new waves of refugees come across the border into Lebanon, Horizons is trying to help the families, both spiritually and physically.
One of the things refugees struggle to find access to is living accommodations. “They’re giving basically all they have just to pay a downpayment for rent for a really junky, slummy apartment or even a tent,” Houssney said.
Horizons provides “readiness kits” to incoming families, giving them pots, pans, dishes, fans, sheets, and more.
They also provide medical help where needed. One family the organization helped was living in an apartment building that didn’t have screens on the windows. Their one-and-a-half-year-old daughter tumbled out through a window and fell three stories to the street below. She survived but suffered many broken bones.
“Our staff was able to take that family to the hospital since they didn’t know even where to go, and we were able to spend a lot of time in the hospital witnessing to them,” Houssney said. “We did see salvations in that family, and we were able to help with medical aid.” (:19)
If there’s a moral to this story, it’s that the Church can make a difference.
“God is using these things to bring salvation to the Syrian refugees, but it’s really coming out of the midst of a lot of difficult situations,” Houssney said. “Not only is there destruction, but there is hope. We need to get more involved as a global Church to be there for refugees in their time of need.”
“We’re seeing that when we’re able to be there for refugees, not way after but in their time of need, then we’re able to see God moving in their hearts and bringing about spiritual change that is permanent…. When the mosque is not helping them and the government is not helping them, the Church is there helping.”
Pray that believers will respond to the need, guide others to salvation, support teams on the front lines, and provide the workers Horizons and other organizations need.
“The biggest miracle that we should be praying for is the salvation of more and more Muslims around the world. That is the greatest gift we can give them because that is their greatest need.”
(Header photo courtesy of Unsplash)