Millions of people from Iraq and Syria have been forced to flee their homes, with Christians facing the added threat of being targeted by Islamic extremists who are attempting to eradicate the church from the Middle East. And yet, many of our brothers and sisters have chosen to stay and serve their communities, and the prayers and support of people like you have made a tangible difference to their daily lives. Here are seven ways that you have made a difference:
1) You’ve put food in hungry bellies
Open Doors is feeding 17,000 families in Syria through local partners every month, thanks to your support. Samer*, who receives this support for his family, says “I can tell you…not a family in Aleppo can live and continue to feed and raise their children without help.”
2) You’ve provided medicine for the sick
Your support provides medicines and medical care for those who need it. Serranosh* is a 50-year-old woman living in Aleppo, Syria, with serious health problems. She lives on her own, and used to work as a teacher, but had to give up her job because of her poor health. Through one of the local churches in Aleppo, she now receives food and the medicine she needs to treat her disease. “I thank God for sending you. Thank you for the hope in life that you gave me.”
3) You’ve created jobs that give people dignity
Thanks to you, our local partners are creating jobs and providing loans for small businesses, helping our brothers and sisters to have the dignity of supporting their families themselves.
One of the projects supported by Open Doors is a stone factory outside Mosul. Nashwan, one of the men now employed there, says, “Without this project I would still be unemployed at home. But now it is better. I can take care of my family again. We thank the church for supporting us." Watch his story in this short video.
Another is a sewing factory in Iraq. Suaad, who was forced to flee her home to escape Islamic State, now works as the manager of the sewing factory. She says, “I know my brother can barely support his own family now, so whatever I get I share with him." See her in action in the video below:
4) You’ve repaired homes
Your support has helped Open Doors local partners to repair Basima and Antoom’s home in Homs, Syria, after they had been displaced for five years. “I didn’t expect that we would be able to come back here,” says Basima. “I am so happy! I thank God that He sent us people like you to help us.” They are pictured below in their repaired home.
In Iraq, your support has helped our local partners to repair over 600 homes so far! George, a church leader in Qaraqosh who has co-ordinated the repairs there, says, "A lot of families want to go back, but they don't have the resources to do so." Thank you for putting resources into the hands of these 600 families - after three years of displacement, they will be celebrating Christmas in their own homes this year.
5) You’ve given children an education and a future
A church in east Lebanon has been able to start a school in the basement of their building with support from an Open Doors partner, providing education for 270 displaced Syrian children (pictured below). Haleh*, an 11-year-old girl from Aleppo who attends the school, said, "I was so happy when my mother said that I was accepted at school. I love Arabic and Mathematics."
Every £15 could help a child to attend school for a week, equipping them with the knowledge and skills they need for the future, whatever challenges they face in the present.
Within Syria, your support is helping Mary (7) and Antoine (8) to receive an education. Nazle, their mother, works as a waitress in Aleppo to try to support her children. When our local partners visited her, they were shocked to find that Mary and Antoine could not read or write. Nazle said, “I am sad that I could not send my children to school, knowing they need education. But I just couldn’t afford it.”
With your help, Mary and Antoine are now going to school. Nazle says, “God has sent you from heaven. Without your help in paying for the rent, I do not know what would have happened to me. I thank you for your help to me. My life has changed now I am receiving the food packages and the help.
“My kids started to attend Sunday school at the church, and for the first time in years I feel that there is some hope. I can see hope through the smiles on the faces of my kids. Through them I recognise Jesus Christ, the giver of hope and life.”
6) You’ve provided trauma care for people who have lived through horrific events
In Jordan, Open Doors partners are providing trauma care for Iraqi children whose families were forced to flee to escape the self-proclaimed Islamic State.
This often takes the form of art therapy. The child who drew this painting is part of a family of three children. Their mother was beaten so severely by Islamic State militants that she became paralysed.
“When we met these kids (ages 12, 10 and 7), none of them were able to speak. But little by little they started drawing,” says Maran, the CEO of Open Doors’ partner Al-Hadaf. “This painting represents their mother – one leg is painted longer than the other – next to a big heart. Unable to speak, they were able to express their huge love for their mother this way.”
Every £30 could help provide trauma care to a child who has been attacked for being from a Christian family.
7) You’ve provided the Word of God, helping our brothers and sisters to grow in their faith
Your support has helped to provide these children in Iraq with their own Bibles. Sajjad*, an Open Doors partner, says, "What we do with these books is sowing the seeds of the gospel in their lives. My dream is that, within 15 years, the seeds will have grown up and these children will be mature believers and have a living relationship with Christ. We will need a lot of prayer to make that happen." Find out more in this short video:
None of this work would be possible without people like you. Thank you for praying, giving, and speaking out to support our brothers and sisters. As well as providing practical support, you are showing that they haven't been forgotten. Madonna, an Iraqi believer who fled her home to escape Islamic State, says, "I am happy that we aren't alone in this."
- For continuing provision for our church family in the Middle East, particularly for those who have been forced to flee their homes
- For healing for the sick and traumatised, and comfort for the bereaved
- For displaced children, that they will be able to receive an education and hope for the future
- For strength and wisdom for Open Doors partners as they work to support our brothers and sisters
- That world leaders will be moved as they receive the Hope for the Middle East petition, and act to support Christians and other minorities in the Middle East.
*Photo used for illustrative purposes