“The families were wondering, ‘Why are you doing this? Why are you helping us?’ I told them the story of the boy who was on the shore among the starfish that had been washed up by the tide. He bent and picked up one and tossed it back in the sea, and then he tossed another, and another. Someone came by and asked him why he was doing this and what difference he could make since there was no way he would be able to help all the starfish along the coast. ‘That’s true,’ said the boy. Then he held up the starfish in his hand, and added, ‘But to this starfish, it makes a difference.’” - Pastor Jihad, on why he is helping Syrian refugees in Lebanon
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.
“We help Christians and Muslims; what matters is the need, not the background of the person”
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 is currently in Lebanon and Jordan, 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 consider supporting World Renew as it continues to serve through local churches and organizations on the ground in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan.
To support World Renew’s response to the Syria Crisis
please donate online...
Or call us or send your cheque marked “Syria Conflict 2012” to one of our offices:
World Renew US
2850 Kalamazoo Ave SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49560
World Renew Canada
P.O. Box 5070 STN LCD
Burlington, Ontario, L7R 3Y8