November 4, 2015

Caring for Syrian Refugees – Holistically

Caring for Syrian Refugees – Holistically

As churches in the Northwest prepare for the arrival of Syrian refugees, we want to remember our brothers and sisters in the Near East who are serving tens of thousands of refugees on a daily basis. Heart for Lebanon, a faith based relief agency, is one example of Arab believers sharing the love of Jesus to Iraqi and Syrian refugees through holistic care. Read the following article to understand why several Northwest churches and organizations partner with Heart for Lebanon in their efforts to make Christ known to people in need. For more information about partnership opportunities contact the Heart for Lebanon USA office at 828-505-8432.

The current Syrian civil war and the resulting refugee crisis it created began in March 2011 as a small uprising of protests. As the unrest rapidly turned into chaos, Syria saw the first consequence of the conflict in the internal displacement of 200,000 Syrian families by April 2012, a number that has grown to 7.6 million (as of July 2015).

Current research completed by the UNHCR shows (as of October 19th, 2015) that the number of Syrian refugees has climbed to 4,180,631; this is approximately 18% of the entire Syrian population.

Of all the countries hosting Syrian refugees, Lebanon is home to the largest number of Syrian refugees per capita. It is with this backdrop that Heart for Lebanon (H4L), a holistic faith-based ministry, has been caring for and ministering to families since the summer of 2012.

The quality of life for refugee families is often characterized by hardship and great need. Having fled in the midst of war and turmoil, many families escaped with little more than the clothes on their backs. While this would make adjusting to life in tent settlements and run-down, dilapidated housing difficult enough, the inability to find work to sustain themselves financially, and ultimately physically, has added to the burden that many families face here in Lebanon. In the midst of this bleak picture, H4L is in a unique position to reach the refugees. Driven by the compassionate heart of Jesus Christ, Heart for Lebanon exists see lives changed and communities transformed. Over the past three years, H4L has been caring for the Syrian refugee community with a holistic approach. Rather unique among the relief work being done in Lebanon is this three-prong approach to care: transactional, relational, and transformational relief.

Transactional relief takes the form of food & hygiene portion distributions (addressing the needs of the whole family) or non-formal education (addressing the needs of their children). Once the family has become part of our transactional relief the next level of holistic care provided is relational relief that works to address the emotional and spiritual needs of the families through regular home visits, monthly spiritual programs, and children’s activities building lasting and authentic relationships opening the door for us to share the love of Christ. Once a relationship has been developed transformational relief can begin by working to lead the individual to a deeper and more long-term level of self-sustainability both spiritually and vocationally.

Heart for Lebanon’s three-prong approach is where the unique ministry opportunity among the

Syrian refugee community lies. Not only providing for their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs as if each area of their lives is compartmentalized; but rather, integrating all of these areas together in an approach to care for the whole family addressing the long-term crisis that the Syrian refugee community finds themselves in today.

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