During the horrific mid-20th century, my Omi along with her family was forced from her home in Europe. She was put into a Nazi boarding school in Germany but later escaped to Canada. However, my great-grandfather was sent to a “work camp” for his faith and was not seen again. While reflecting and reading about the inhumane situations created by the current conflicts in the Middle East I could only think of my Omi, and the worse sufferings that these current refugees were experiencing as they fled their homes. I knew I needed to act and resultantly joined a Global Health Outreach trip to the Middle East in August 2018.
Civil upheaval in Syria and Iraq has led to over 2.2 million refugees finding temporary refuge in this area. Normally a country of 4.1 million, this area currently faces a state-wide economic crisis. Amidst this backdrop a team of health care providers partnered with local missionaries to answer God’s call to “love thy neighbor” and tangibly meet the spiritual and physical needs of the living people there. God grew my heart for those on the fringes of our global society and showed me how the love of Christ can reach the world’s most vulnerable.
During fourteen days in late August, I served as a logistics volunteer for a 14-person team running a medical clinic for Syrian and Iraqi refugees in a transient refugee neighborhood. As a logistics volunteer I was initially tasked to aid organization of the pharmacy, assist physician’s requests, and ensure crowd control. During this time, I saw children missing limbs from explosives, heard horrific stories of razed cities, and discussed the difficulties of seeking asylum with refugees. It was quite difficult, and I often felt overwhelmed by the stories I heard daily. However, midway through the first week our team leader recognized the need to more intentionally pray with our patients and asked me to begin a prayer station. Together with the translators and other team members we listened to people’s stories, prayed, and shared the gospel to nearly all the individuals that came through our doors. God shifted my perspective from one of frustration and despair to one of hope and progress as I saw lives change. By the end, we saw over 80 people commit to Christ and get connected with our local missionaries. Medically, 800 people received health care and over 2000 prescription were filled.
Our world is broken, there’s no doubting that, but God has empowered us to build his Kingdom on earth with the skills that we have. The world will be restored one day by the Lord and we must continue to be the salt and light of this world, serving those on the fringes of our global society. These complex political and social issues in the Middle East will not be fixed overnight but as Christians we can play our role to help restore this world and transform lives to wholeness through Christ’s love.