Christian Refugees & How You Can Be Part of Their Story (1st Hand Accounts by David Rupert)

{By David Rupert}

 

I looked at the flight path in a straight line over the Middle East right into Jordan, which some have called the “nice country with some very bad neighbors.”

 

I was following a prompting, an urgent and clear voice of God to go. Still, the doubts swirled. What am I doing here?

 

I needed to remind myself that it was God’s story I was following, that I needed to be his scribe. I had heard about those in this country who were outside the city gate—literally.

 

We all have heard the stories of Christians threatened by ISIS, displaced because of persecution starting in 2014. But where are they now? I wanted to find them, look into their eyes and remind them that they are not alone.

 

As a writer, it’s hard not to think ahead about plot lines and the twists that lead to the explosive ending. I wanted to develop a lead and an outline before I even boarded an airplane. I wanted to write the story and just fill in the blanks along the way. But I committed to sit back and let God write the story, to prepare the steps and the people along the way.

 

And He did.

 

refugee praying

 

I met with more than twenty families who had immigrated from Syria and Iraq. They were Christian families and Muslim families, both equally impacted by displacement. Hands trembling, I tapped out the translated tales and often found myself squeezing away the tears so I could do my job.

 

I became exhausted with the burden of sharing in their suffering and the hours of listening, interpreting, and then scribing. And yet, I was energized by the faith of these people.

 

I came away from this experience with a profound and deep understanding of a world turned upside down and innocent people impacted by man’s depravity. My faith found a deeper well, spurred by wounded men and women who haven’t given up on God.

 

 

The stories are real

 

refugee house box

The refugees I met are not the ones you see on television right now skirting the borders of European nations. These are primarily Christians who have been oppressed and ostracized, forced to disperse and survive on their own, without assistance.

 

I’ve been able to share a few stories already, like this one: Family of five: We pray for ISIS, where the mother of three children prays for those who displaced her family from their home in Iraq, even though they live in a cargo box waiting for U.N. resolution.

 

This story, Nowhere to go: Refugee families escaped persecution, but cannot escape captivity, describes the unbelievably “stuck” position many of these refugees face. They cannot go home. They cannot work, due to government restriction, and so they wait on a distant hope of immigration.

 

And I interviewed a woman, also forced from her home in Syria, who gave birth to a daughter. She gave her the name “Sham,” which means “Damascus.” The reason? “So whenever I look in her face, I think of home.”

 

refugeee albertAnd then there was Albert, who left his business in Aleppo, Syria, because of the escalation of hostilities. His 11 year-old son, fully understanding his family’s plight, who still smiled his way into my heart. My article, This Syrian family is looking for home, helps put human faces to war.

 

For Basaam Jacob , the straw that broke the camel’s back for his family’s departure from Bagdad was a masked man threatening his family.

 

And I was especially touched when I visited this church in a town that is changing because of the faith of refugees. For centuries there has been a very muted Christian witness – but that’s changing.

 

 

What’s next?

 

refugee girls

There are many other stories that I still need to share. There’s one about a family whose home was painted with the symbol of the Nazarene who left their home, their belongings, their town—fearing for their lives.

 

They’ve never regretted standing for their Savior. “Not even once,” said Nineveh, the young mother.

 

And there’s the story about a man who served time in a Syrian prison for crimes he DID commit. There, he met Jesus and then later, his brother found the same Savior. Together, they’re helping lead a home church with other displaced Syrians.

 

And I grew to cherish the heart of one man who learned of the death of his father through a YouTube video, in which his father was killed by Syrian terrorists. He is working on overcoming his thoughts of revenge and is leading his family toward a life of surrender.

 

I watched him, and others I interviewed, dip his soul in surrender through baptism in the Jordan River—yes, the same one that our Lord first bowed in surrender, himself.

 

 

What should we do?

 

I didn’t do all of this to write a few emotional articles or to produce collected words for some to skim. I hope to help spur a conversation, that these stories will fall in the right hands of people who can make changes to help these people. I also want the church to come to the aid of our brothers and sisters who have suffered for the sake of the Cross.

 

The refugee crisis can be overwhelming. It’s so deep you might simply throw your hands up because it’s too big, too broad for one person to do anything.

 

But let me help. The Apostle Paul said this:

 

“So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, but especially to those who are of the household of faith.”(Gal 6.10)

 

These brothers and sisters stood up for their faith under the threat of death. As a body of believers, we need to rush to their side, to let them know we support them, that we pray for them, and that we are united with them in spirit and soul.

 

Outside the city gates doesn’t mean that they have to suffer alone.

 

 

Ways You Can Be Part of Their Story

 

I have found a group of people who are working with Christian refugees, Team Expansion. They give aid, but they also provide discipleship and a solid message of faith to believer and nonbeliever alike. Many non believers have found their way to truth because of the love given by these people.

 

You can also give online here. Under Missionary/Project Name, “Madaba – Refugee Fund”.

 

Checks go to:

Team Expansion

POB 91294

Louisville, KY 4029

Memo line: “Refugee Fund.”

 

I would also encourage you to become a regular supporter of these people who are working every day on behalf of the gospel for the sake of Syrian and Iraqi refugees. I’ve seen how they use money and how they live, and I’m a believer that this is a worthy cause. Give here and enter the missionary name “Nance.”

 

 

{Thank you for your support, your prayers, and your ongoing encouragement for #RefugeeStories.}

 

_________________________________________________

 

David2David Rupert on any given weekend can be found wandering the Rockies, fly-rod in hand, and trying to figure it out. He may be a communications professional and writer for a government organization by day, but by night, he’s taking seriously the call to encourage the Body. Spurring another to share their gifts, is a passion of his. He especially points to Christ’s words on his blog called Red Letter Believers and continues to reach others through his many publications in magazine articles. While he has his hands full, he is also the community editor at The High Calling, and adding to the list, his new book set to release in June 2014 is called  Disconnected: How to Turn Around Every Broken Relationship.  While yet another book, Make a Difference: Growth in Leadership, and many more writings by him can be found here as he continues to seek out more ways to encourage others.

 

 

 

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