Early in February 2014, Bethlehem Bible College in coordination with the Shepherd Society organized a fourth trip to Mafraq, Jordan to serve among the Syrian refugees. As usual, Pastor Nour Sahawneh and his team at the Mafraq Alliance Church welcomed us warmly.
This time our team was made up mostly of Palestinians from the West Bank and from Israel who belonged to different churches. One exception was Dr. Palmer who is a visiting teacher at BBC. Dr. Palmer is a Canadian Mennonite.
The Alliance Church in Mafraq has engaged in services to the refugees since the Syrian crisis began. Volunteers come from all over the world to show the love of Christ to these refugees in tangible ways. The church invites all volunteers to eat breakfast together every Tuesday. We were surprised to eat breakfast and have fellowship with over fifty internationals from 15 countries and local volunteers. Some, like our team, are short time volunteers while others are volunteering for several months or several years.
Every time we go to Mafraq, we get astonished by the sacrifices made by Pastor Nour and his team. Every day they meet refugees, listen to them, make records of their needs and constantly strategize and search for best ways to serve them.
When our team does an outreach in Mafraq, our priority is to visit the Syrian Refugees in their homes. We spend about an hour with every family. They eagerly share with us their stories and their pain. During our most recent visit, we heard horror stories of massacres and destruction. As we sat and listened to the tearful stories of the refugees, our eyes hearts were moved and our eyes welled up with tears.
The Alliance Church has developed a school for Syrian children ages six to nine who are not enrolled in Jordanian schools, and on this visit, several members of our team led the children in singing during their morning gathering time. The school is entirely staffed by volunteers and retired teachers.
As Palestinians who suffered much in the last hundred years, it is not hard for us to empathize with our Syrian brothers and sisters. Our message to them is one of hope and forgiveness. Some of the families we visited have just arrived from Syria. Our team, in coordination with the Alliance Church, helped distribute emergency needed items. As much as we gave, the needs are still huge. For example, three ladies came who had nothing. Their families, totaling 17 people, had found a room in which they could stay. They slept on the bare floor and then came for help. In another case, a man came with his family. Rockets had destroyed their home. His wife walked six hours with the older children while he came with two younger boys. He carried a bundle of clothes in one hand and food in the other. As they walked, it began to rain and it soon became too hard for the boys to walk in the mud. In desperation, the man dropped the two bags of belongings and carried his two boys to the border.
The Shepherd Society thanks all those who donated. The Lord willing, this will not be our last trip. We invite your continuing prayers and support for this ministry that we offer in the name of Christ.
Rev. Alex Awad and the Bethlehem/Nazareth Team
February 13, 2014