By Janée Angel
They’re here. They’ve been here a week and two days.
Let me officially introduce you to Hary’s brother, E. and his wife, K., his daughter M. and his son J. They’ve journeyed quite a way to get here. The stories are beginning to unfold. The sadness and poverty of war.
K. arrived with an ace bandage on her arm. When I asked what happened, she said that every day they had to walk miles to get fresh drinking water. She “sprained” her arms hauling water jugs.
We noticed she looked a little nervous while walking around our living room. It is on the second floor of our home and has hardwood floors. Hary realized that they have never seen wood floors before. All of the homes in Syria have cement floors. K. heard the creaks under her feet and thought the floor would collapse. I came beside her and jumped on the floor to show her it was strong, and I think I made her blood pressure rise higher than it already was. I pray she trusts the Lord in this new land.
M. is only 18 years old. She has been responsible for her family. She sold the family home with a large yard. The buying price in Syria for a home is 4,000 Euros. Imagine! She and her brother have not gone to school for fear of what was outside the home. Her one thing she loved to take the stress away was eating fries, so we took her to McDonald’s for the first time. I pray for her to rest in God.
J. remembers a member of IS coming into their home a couple of years ago when he was 13. He was alone and one person came and hid in the bathroom. A Kurdish man saved him because he saw the man enter. I pray for healing from fear.
When it was time to eat dinner, we decided to have leftovers of a Syrian dish I had made for them. I bought extra meat to put in, because I knew it was very expensive in Syria and thought they might need the protein. M. was shocked by the amount that I put in. They told us that they could only afford to eat meat once a month. If they wanted bread they had to search to find it in their city. J. told Hary they would buy eggs, but they would only let J. eat them because he is a growing boy and they were so expensive. I pray for heath!
When we talked about heating up the food, they asked how we would heat it. We told them that we had a microwave. They had never used one. In Syria, microwaves a for the rich, and the rich are no longer in Syria.
Just before they were checked into the refugee process, I washed their clothes. There was a pungent odor. K. told me they had a machine in Syria, but since the war started 5 years ago, they haven’t had water to run it. So for the last five years, they have washed everything by hand.
With all of this culture shock for them (and heart-breaking stories for us), we went to church on Sunday. From the piano seat, I can see everything that happens. When Hary visited his family in Syria almost 6 years ago, he was the only believer. I had no expectations that the situation had changes. But that first Sunday I looked over at this 18-year-old M. during the first song. One hand over her heart, one lifted high and eyes closed, she sang to Jesus. I cried.
When we got home, I told her what a blessing it was to watch her sing and how wonderful to see that she loves Jesus. I encourages her to keep holding onto Christ here in Belgium. This time, she cried. She told us that the hour for church in Syria was after 4:00 p.m., after curfew. She couldn’t go to church alone, so she just worshiped at home. That day was the first day she had been to church in years.
Hary’s brtoher J. came to know the Lord before he died last year. M. has a heart for God. Hary’s sister, who is my age, came to visit from Sweden this week and told of how she loves the lord because God was with her after her oldest son died. Her oldest daughter, who is still in Syria, has also had an encounter with God. The Lord is waking up Hary’s family. Out of tragedy and hurt, Jesus is the dayspring, the beginning of a new era. I am excited to see where God will take this family and those who love him.
They have arrived in Belgium, but they are still arriving on their journey with Jesus. Beautiful!
Janée Angel is a CBF field personnel serving alongside her husband, Hary, a native Syrian, in Belgium. Together the minister to Arabic speakers from North Africa and the Middle East. In June of 2016, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship contributed $20,000 to facilitate the safe travel of 90 Syrian Christians seeking asylum in Belgium through Janée’s partnership with Gave Veste. Hary’s family was able to travel to Belgium through this effort. Learn more about this and other work that Janée and Hary are doing among Syrian refugees here.