Helping persecuted Christians in the Middle East
As the war between Hamas and Israel intensifies, the lives of persecuted Christians in the Middle East hang in the balance. Their lives become more and more perilous with each new devastating surge of violence.
When Arash, Mehri, and their son Koorush converted to Christianity, extreme persecution followed. They left everything in their home country of Iran in fear for their lives and eventually settled in southern Lebanon on the border of Israel. They were relieved and grateful to be away from their persecutors, although the difficult road of rebuilding their lives lay ahead.
And then, in early October, the war between Hamas and Israel began, enveloping southern Lebanon as Hezbollah stepped up its attacks on Israel. Arash and Mehri’s home was directly in the line of Hezbollah’s missiles. Once again, they left everything. They drove north, sleeping in their car for several days. With no family and no resources, they did not know what to do and prayed for God to intervene.
And God did. Help The Persecuted has on-the-ground team members who minister to persecuted believers, meeting their physical and spiritual needs. Our Field Ministry Team in Lebanon has extensive connections to local pastors, one of whom referred Arash and his family to us. We welcomed them into our Refuge Centre in Central Lebanon a few days ago.“Thank God we have a ceiling above us, and we have room and a place to eat,” Arash said.
This is what the war means for persecuted Christians: Many of them will lose everything, again…and discover that God provides in the most unexpected ways, again. As they hope against hope, they find that God cares for them even - or especially - when they’re living in a warzone on the brink of winter.
As war broke out, we could see how God had divinely equipped us to help those fleeing in at least three specific ways:
1. Offering refuge and safety
Our team has refurbished a church building in Central Lebanon that will accommodate families who have been displaced because of the war. We installed solar panels for electricity and painted and prepared rooms, installing beds, cabinets, and heaters. Families will have plenty to eat, clothing, and blankets. Our Safe Houses provide the same comfort and security. We anticipate all of our rooms to be filled quickly, but we have plans that allow for expansion.
However, we know that our truest refuge will always be in Jesus. This is why our pastoral team is actively ministering to everyone staying in our Refuge Centre or Safe Houses, providing times of biblical counsel, prayer, and teaching. We provide Bibles and connections to local churches. It is our prayer that as these families grapple with their uncertain futures, they will rest ever more deeply in the eternal hope of Jesus Christ.
2. Providing nutritious food
One of the many horrible consequences of war is scarcity of nutritious food and even famine, and when the fighting began, we saw how God had prepared us beforehand to meet a need only He saw coming. Over a year ago, Help The Persecuted started our Seeds of Hope farm providing food to thousands of people in need from all religious backgrounds. We’ve seen incredible spiritual growth from it as people who came for fresh vegetables, or a hot meal, discovered the beauty and truth of the Gospel.
When the war began, we immediately initiated plans to double the capacity of our farm operations, adding 19 new commercial-grade greenhouses to feed thousands more. This means that many more will hear the Gospel, some for the first time.
3. Long-term hope
At Help The Persecuted, we aim for long-term solutions, helping persecuted believers rebuild their lives after losing so much for the sake of Christ. Because of this, we are prepared to offer persecuted Christians fleeing the war support through our highly successful Enduring Livelihood Programme, which provides initial funding to start their own small businesses and lead a life of dignity. Of all the Enduring Livelihood businesses we have helped to start over the past four years, around 80% of them are still running, providing income and employment to persecuted families!
At the same time, Muslims and nominal Christians in this region are more receptive to the Gospel than ever before. As the realities of Islam play out before the eyes of innocent people caught up in the conflict, they are searching for truth and a hope that will never fade. We praise God for the opportunity to meet many of these people and provide for their physical and spiritual needs. As we help them rebuild their lives now, we have the privilege of telling them about a hope that is truly eternal.
Who are Help The Persecuted?
Help The Persecuted are ministers of the Gospel who rescue, restore and rebuild the lives of Persecuted Christians throughout The Middle East, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and North Africa. Last year they helped improve the lives of more than 46,000 persecuted Christians in 17 countries.
God has uniquely positioned Help The Persecuted to rescue, restore and rebuild the lives of Christians caught in the midst of the Israel-Hamas conflict. They believe that there is always a reason to hope because God is sovereign over everything - even this. Their Field Ministry Team members are often instruments of that hope, and your faithful giving makes this possible.
To find out more about the work of Help The Persecuted, visit their website.
Help The Persecuted faithful team members stand ready to minister in increasingly hostile environments. They invite you to join them in prayer for three things:
- For peace and the release of hostages and for the safety of persecuted Christians who are fleeing their homes yet again in the wake of the war.
- For God to draw people in need of food and eager for spiritual truth to the ‘Seeds of Hope’ farm.
- For stamina for the Field Ministry Team members who so tirelessly share the hope of Christ.
Photos courtesy of Help The Persecuted
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