Fleeing Syrian refugees meet with God's love

Baptist Press
Posted: Mar 20, 2012 5:23 PM
ATHENS (BP) -- Ongoing violence in Syria is driving refugees across borders into neighboring countries, where many of them are being met by Southern Baptists' ministry partners with badly needed help and the love of Jesus.

Thousands of Syrians have poured across the country's borders into Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, most of them families with small children, carrying few possessions, according to news reports. The United Nations recently put the death toll for a year of violence in Syria at more than 8,000.

Abraham Shepherd, who with his wife Grace directs work in the Middle East for Baptist Global Response, is planning an assessment trip to determine how best to help refugees as the crisis intensifies.

"Our BGR trained partners and project directors say the need is increasing," Shepherd said. "I'm planning a trip to the crisis zone to assess and plan the next phase of assistance and response as the crisis darkens and the plight of the people worsens."

More than $165,000 has been disbursed from Southern Baptists' World Hunger Fund to assist partners in Lebanon and Syria in meeting refugee needs, Shepherd said. Already, hunger funds have helped more than 12,000 people in at least 49 communities, providing food and hygiene supplies as well as temporary shelter, bedding, heaters and some medicine.

The steady stream of displaced Syrians has spurred BGR and its partners to action throughout the Middle East, working on all Syrian border fronts to care for the fleeing refugees, Shepherd said.

"The crisis throughout the Middle East has been labeled by mainstream media as 'the Arab Spring,' but to the average Arab in the Middle East, it's anything but spring," Shepherd said. "What they are experiencing is more devastation, disillusionment, fear and scarce basic necessities of life.

"That is even more true of the minorities among them, like the Christian minority of the Middle East," he noted.

Southern Baptist aid not only is helping the fleeing Syrians, but also Christians in neighboring countries by empowering them to be a blessing to their local communities -- "showing true Christianity in word and in deed," Shepherd added.

"We are deeply grateful for the generosity Southern Baptists show when they give to hunger and relief needs," Shepherd said. "Your giving and your generosity, along with our trained responders, enable us to show God's love to the suffering Syrian people in their time of need."

Mark Kelly writes for Baptist Global Response, on the Internet at www.gobgr.org.

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