Middle East (MNN) — The makeshift Rukban refugee camp at the Syria-Jordan border has over 50,000 Syrian refugees who are at risk of starvation. Refugees here have been denied entry to Jordan. However, returning to their homes in Syria is easier said than done.
Tom Atema with Heart for Lebanon explains, “You have to remember they are coming from a place in Syria that you can’t go back to. It’s bombed out.”
United Nations’ aid envoys to Rukban have been postponed over the last several weeks. There are even reports of Syrian and Jordanian forces preventing food supplies from reaching the camp.
“The government officials and other officials of the UN and World Food Bank really want to put the pressure on them to go back home…. The reason for that, in my opinion, is because they don’t have the money either. The UN and World Food Bank are really in bad shape financially. They keep cutting back in the Middle East their programs. In fact, in Lebanon, they do very little anymore.”
Heart for Lebanon provides family aid and winterization kits to displaced Syrians in Lebanon once a month. Atema says this approaching season is going to be especially difficult for refugees everywhere.
“Winter is coming. It gets bitter cold in the Bekaa Valley. We provide jackets and socks and scarves and mittens and gloves and heaters and that sort of stuff…. And we do food bags or food portions. Food portions are 55 pounds of food that have been tested every six or seven months by an independent agency to make sure it’s nutritionally balanced.”
Atema says their ministry to displaced Muslims stands apart from the generosity of other groups. Heart for Lebanon gives freely with no strings attached, and this grabs the attention of the men and women they serve.
“You have to understand that in the Muslim culture, there it is normal for people to help people but they ask for something in return constantly. That’s why when Hezbollah gives out aid — and they give out plenty of it — they know what the vote is going to be when they go to take on an election because everybody has got to vote for their candidate.”
As Heart for Lebanon gets aid to refugees in need, they see the Holy Spirit opening conversational opportunities to share Jesus.
“When you [give] unconditionally…they are blown away. [They ask,] ‘Why do you do it?’ It’s the compassionate heart of Jesus Christ that allows us to do this. That opens up the door to conversation,” Atema says.
“There are 99 attributes of God in Islam. There is not one on love. Not one. So when you show them the compassionate love of Jesus Christ, it blows them away.”
As you start to bundle up in winter coats and scarves, remember those who don’t have protection this winter. Consider supporting Heart for Lebanon’s refugee ministry in Lebanon.
“We could use another $250,000 tomorrow to feed people. But it’s very hard to raise it.”
Also, please pray for Syrian refugees stranded in limbo between Jordan and Syria. Ask God to make a way for aid envoys to reach them and for a Chrisitan witness in the Rukban camp to spread Gospel hope.
Header photo courtesy of Heart for Lebanon.