Syrian refugee children hearing the Gospel at Bible camp
Syrian refugees need people's help more than ever, and they need help not just with rebuilding their lives, but also with the restoration of their emotional wellbeing and spiritual faith.
Missionary Kate Yates recently travelled to Lebanon to work with local partners of Open Doors as they hosted a 3-day Bible camp for Syrian refugee children.
"Before departing for the camp, we spent some time hearing about the children we would be working with. The statistics were alarming and revealed that these children were hurting (79 percent have lost a family member to the violence/persecution; 60 percent have seen someone inflicted with the violence/persecution with their own eyes; 30 percent have personally experienced it)," she says.
"The church in Lebanon has a daunting task in front of them as one in every four people in Lebanon is a Syrian refugee. What encouraged me was that our partners recognise it is not so much a daunting task but an incredible opportunity!" she adds.
The approach of these missionaries is not to preach, but to serve the children. They know the Gospel has the power to change people's hearts and lives, so they shared the story of God in order to show love to the children.
Despite all the difficult things the refugees have experienced, they were warm and hospitable to Yates. "They lived in makeshift structures that hardly qualified as a home, and yet, their gratitude for their current conditions was evident as they shared with us," she says. "When we asked about their story and how we could pray, the first thing out of their mouths was gratitude for no longer living in a war zone."
Movingly, they are simply thankful that their children no longer have to hear the sounds of bombs and gunfire, and they are praying that their country will finally find peace.
"In the second home we entered, I recognised a young girl I had seen earlier that morning at camp. While we did not speak the same language, I was reminded that smiles break through language barriers and can express the love of Christ without a single word spoken," shares Yates, since she and the young girl "experienced such joy to be in each other's presence."
The next three days were a busy blur of playing, dancing, laughing, singing, and colouring. The children, who were so used to death and trauma, were shown what it is to be a treasured child of God.
"Did our presence make a difference? Honestly, I don't know if my flying over six thousand miles made an impact on the children's lives, but I know it certainly impacted mine," says Yates.