Over 6.8 million people are affected by the ongoing civil war in Syria, and 98,000 people have already died. In Lebanon alone, 470,000 Syrians have arrived in need of shelter and protection, leaving their homes and belongings behind.
The numbers are staggering, and may cause us to question what can really be done to help so many families in the midst of such a crisis. One small church in Zahle, northern Lebanon has not let the numbers overwhelm them. This church, like many other churches, communities and organizations across the region, is reaching out and touching lives, one family at a time.
As the Syrian refugees started flooding into Lebanon, Pastor Jihad and his small church of 50 members decided to reach out and assist the arriving families in any way they could, regardless of religion or ethnicity.
“We help Christians and Muslims; what matters is the need, not the background of the person,” explained Pastor Jihad.
They started providing food to the displaced families, as well as blankets, mattresses and stoves as winter set in. Today, with the help of the World Renew and its local partners, this small church is providing 500 families with food and over 400 families with other household items as needed.
"Pastor Jihad is a wonderful example of a Lebanese Christian who has felt called to show God's love to refugees from Syria. He is an inspiration to me and to World Renew,” stated Wayne de Jong, World Renew’s Director of Disaster Response.
As more and more Syrian civilians are forced to flee intense fighting across large parts of the country, more international support is urgently needed.
With support from the Integral Alliance, including Tear Netherlands, Tear Belgium, and World Relief (US), World Renew plans to significantly increase its outreach to displaced people throughout the region. De Jong visited Lebanon and Jordan in mid-May, meeting with local partners and beneficiaries, to determine how best to scale up the response to this major disaster.
“World Renew has been implementing a number of relatively small projects in Syria and Lebanon over the past year,” de Jong said. “Now, with the support of the Integral Alliance and its Members, we will be able to carry out a larger and more effective response program, which reaches thousands of families in desperate need, regardless of their religion or race.”
As the needs of displaced Syrians continue to grow, Pastor Jihad is not losing hope. Instead, he is rejoicing in the love and compassion that has seen grow and spread as the community reaches out to Syrians in need. Please pray for World Renew as it continues to serve through local churches and organizations on the ground in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan.