Jordan (MNN) — Refugees who have fled to Jordan from Syria are telling mission leaders supported by Christian Aid Mission about deliberate, new persecution from the "Arab Spring" insurgents who are seeking to overthrow the brutal Assad regime in Damascus.
Nearly 100,000 Christians so far have fled from Homs and other cities being targeted by government forces, but it is no longer just to escape the crossfire. Now, more reports are revealing that a new wave of persecution is deliberate and growing. As a result, Virginia-based Christian Aid Mission is sending additional aid to help the growing numbers of refugees which have fled to Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey.
"It is over; we can't get back what we lost," said one discouraged Christian refugee here in Jordan. "It will never be the same anymore for me or my family. We've lost hope." He said he had to flee with his family at night, because anti-Christian persecution in Syria is becoming a steadily growing reality.
"I had my own business. I ran a supermarket, and we were financially stable. Unfortunately, that's not the case anymore. Our dreams vanished when a group of terrorists threatened to kill my family, burn our house, and set fire to the supermarket if I didn't pay them $7,000.
"I paid the amount, hoping that they would leave us alone, but they did not. Instead, they kidnapped me for a whole week. They only let me go on one condition: that each month I would pay them the same amount.
"What do you think I could do? I fled. I packed our stuff, taking only the basics. I took my family and came to Jordan. My son, Omar, has one year left to finish his bachelor's degree, but now his dreams have vanished as well. I used to be a business owner…but now I am a laborer who can hardly provide the day-to-day basics for my family."
Meanwhile, indigenous missionaries supported by Christian Aid are standing in the gap to help by visiting Syrian refugees in northern Jordan, sometimes every day. Like the grocer, they also have left everything. Many have lost sons and other family members since the fighting began.
Another older woman told native missionaries how close death is for Syrian Christians, "I was talking with friends next to our building when suddenly, from every direction, we heard gun shots. At the same moment, I watched my friends fall dead in front of me. I lost my friends in one second. I was also hit by a bullet. It fragmented my knee, and now I can't walk normally."
"Only three weeks ago, two car bombs detonated in the middle of a Christian neighborhood in Syria, close to the Syrian Air Intelligence building. The explosions caused massive damage, turning walls to rubble. We know one family whose house walls were so damaged that they were practically living on the street; they were able to find shelter from the cold at a relative's home. Of course, they were not the only family that lost their home that day."
Many of these victims have come to Syrian refugee camps in the northwest towns of Jordan. Local believers have welcomed them warmly with an open heart, but it is a challenge for these churches and Christian communities to handle the economic and social demands of this crisis. The health care and education systems are both overloaded by the influx of new patients and students.
"Here at our mission," said a leader whose compassionate work is being helped by Christians in America, "we view this refugee crisis as an opportunity to share the love of Christ. It is God who opened the door for us to minster to these refugees, and we cannot abandon our brothers and sisters.
"We believe that if we are faithful, this may be a time of harvest among the Syrian refugees. God is sovereign, and He cares. We must care, too, for we are ambassadors for Christ and must reflect God's love."
Because Christians in the United States are sending aid, the Jordanian missionaries are visiting refugee families and listening to their stories, as well as distributing food packages, blankets, mattresses, and other aid.
"As we show compassion for their pain and grieve with them, we also try to show respect as well. After each visit, we distribute New Testaments and Christian tracts–particularly to those who have not begun to follow the Lord.
"After each visit we receive a positive blessing from the refugees' reactions. One family told us that they had been visited by other charity organizations, but they know that we are different because we respect them and make them feel loved and welcome."
The mission church has kept it's doors open 24 hours a day for the refugees since the crisis began. Native Christian volunteers frequently receive calls for help at midnight. The needs are huge. Many are unable to find jobs or ways to support themselves. Others are injured, struggling with broken bones, disabilities, and illness that need medication. The leaders are asking Christian Aid to help find more funds in the USA to help meet these physical needs.
Also, they are asking for help to provide targeted training for Christian youth. "We want to equip young Christians to be leaders and peacemakers during this humanitarian crisis. They need discipleship if they are going to be light in darkness and peace in the time of fear," explained the leader.
"Each member of the local churches must know how to boldly share his faith, or our witness will be diminished. Discipleship requires investments of time, resources, and courage, and we are asking the Lord to provide everything needed.
"We pray that God will use Christian Aid and friends in America to help us bring beauty from ashes. May you all be His hands and feet to share this work with us, and help us reach out to desperate and discouraged Syrian refugees.
The leader continued, "We know that only our God can truly meet their needs but God can use Americans as they go beyond sympathy and act in love now to help us reach Syrian refugees with the Gospel."