By Aaron Weaver
DECATUR, Ga. — The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship is continuing long-term efforts to serve Syrian refugees through its field personnel and ministry partners in the Middle East and now Southeast Europe.
CBF has sent $5,000 to field personnel Alicia and Jeff Lee in Macedonia to support their partnerships with local nongovernmental organizations meeting the immediate needs of refugees traveling across the country to Germany and other parts of Europe.
CBF has also sent an additional $10,000 to support the ministries of field personnel Chaouki and Maha Boulos in Lebanon, who have been responding to the Syrian refugee crisis since 2011 through a variety of efforts in a country that is now home to 1.5 million refugees. The Bouloses are currently feeding nearly 500 Syrian refugee individuals and families in Lebanon, as well as providing emergency food support to families inside Syria through a ministry partner. They were profiled earlier this year in fellowship! magazine. A video of their ministry to Syrian refugees is available here.
Cooperative Baptists are encouraged to support the Fellowship’s response to this global crisis which has been called “the biggest humanitarian emergency of our era.” Gifts can be made to the CBF Syrian Refugee Response at www.cbf.net/syria.
CBF Executive Coordinator Suzii Paynter said the Fellowship remains well-positioned as it continues to address the Syrian refugee crisis.
“In the wake of this crisis, CBF is positioned for global response through the leadership of our field personnel as well as trusted partnerships on the ground,” Paynter said. “The Fellowship is providing lifeline support to refugees making brave and dangerous journeys into foreign places. For those of us who cannot be on the front line of response, we pray fervently for peace in broken places, for the safety of weary travelers and for their neighbors to welcome the stranger.”
With the civil war in Syria now in its fifth year, more than 4 million refugees have fled the country and nearly 8 million have been internally displaced. As the violence in Syria escalates further and living conditions worsen in Syria, an increasing number of refugees are making the perilous journey by land and sea to Europe in search of a better future.
In Macedonia, the number of refugees making their way through the country has tripled in the past three months after the government passed a law allowing refugees a 72-hour temporary pass to take trains, buses and taxis north to the Serbian border. An estimated 3,000 people per day are transiting through Macedonia, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and a third of them are women and children. These families are enduring hot days, arriving with only the clothes they are wearing and suffering from extreme exhaustion.
The Lees are working with local partners Open Gate and the Food Bank of Macedonia to meet the needs of these refugees. Open Gate is an NGO responsible for operating the women’s and children’s tent and reuniting unaccompanied children with their families. Open Gate is also providing refugees with rights information as well as essential hygiene items and bathing stations for mothers to bathe their babies. The Food Bank of Macedonia is assisting with food distribution to refugee camps in an area where humanitarian organizations are few.
“Our local partners are stretched thin, working with limited resources, and the number of refugees entering the camp grows larger every day,” Alicia and Jeff Lee said. “We are positioned to help. With partnerships already in place, we are prepared to come alongside our local partners and respond to the refugee crisis together.”
In addition to the ministry of field personnel in Lebanon, CBF also continues to serve refugees in another Middle Eastern country through the work of other field personnel who have distributed much-needed living supplies and clothing to Syrian refugees in their city over the past two years.
CBF Global Missions Coordinator Steven Porter highlighted the Fellowship’s commitment to long-term presence with field personnel and local partners in place and extending hope and hospitality to refugees from Syria.
“Scripture admonishes us time and time again to welcome the stranger and show hospitality to friends and enemies alike,” Porter said. “As we consider our response to the suffering of Syrian refugees, we do well to remember that our Lord Jesus was once a child refugee fleeing the same region.
“Your Cooperative Baptist field personnel have been serving these same families for years on the border between Lebanon and Syria, in other areas of the Middle East and in Europe as violence drives families away from their homes and support systems. One of the great benefits of CBF Global Missions’ commitment to long-term presence is that we have longstanding ministries and local partners already in place. Your sacrificial gifts will enable CBF field personnel to extend hope and hospitality to Syrian families in crisis. And in so doing, we welcome Jesus. For ‘truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me’ (Matthew 25:40).”
Donations to support the CBF Syrian Refugee Response may be made online at www.cbf.net/syria or by mailing a check payable to “CBF” with Acct. 17030 in the memo line to:
Cooperative Baptist Fellowship
P.O. Box 102972
Atlanta, GA 30368-2972
Additional Resources and Readings:
CBF Prayers for Syrian Refugees
(Download this free prayer guide and worship resource.)