Nazarene churches in Jordan have been providing a place for refugees to receive love, respect, and service for the last four years.
In fact, those three words are what the entire ministry is based on, according to Pastor Khalil, who serves a Nazarene congregation in Amman, Jordan.
Many of the refugees who arrive have already endured bombings, violence, or persecution. They arrive exhausted and fearful.
“We are here,” Khalil said. “We want to build the bridges, by love.”
More than 11 million people have been forced from their homes in Syria since a civil war broke out in the spring of 2011. Approximately 6.5 million people are displaced within the country, and another 4.5 million have fled to other countries as refugees. Most of those who fled are living in neighboring countries, including Jordan and Lebanon.
Many of the children who have been displaced have gone years without any sort of formal education. Ten-year-old Yana (not her real name) arrived in Jordan with her family after their house in Syria was threatened by airstrikes.
“When I left Syria, I felt a wound in my heart,” she said. “I left it because we had no choice. Otherwise, I would have stayed in it, because it is my country and it will always be.”
For a year, Yana continually asked her mother when she might be able to go to school. In Syria she could not read or write, and she hadn’t learned to speak English. Through a relative, they found a Nazarene school that provided scholarships and education for children living as refugees. Now, Yana not only feels safe, she also dreams of becoming a teacher or principal herself.
“When I entered the Nazarene school in Amman, I learned a lot of things,” Yana said. “I finally felt that I was in a safe environment.”
Schools like Yana’s are one part of how the Nazarene churches in Jordan have been ministering to refugee families for the past few years since refugee families began coming into their communities. The church provides food, blankets, medicine, and other basics. So far, they have helped more than 4,000 refugees from Syria and Iraq.
“The church here has been very good to us,” said a refugee named Sabha, a single mother with five children. “The situation is not easy. I am in need of money for the children, for their school. I haven’t even bought them clothes. Then, there is the rent, electricity and water to pay. … At least we feel safe, and we can sleep with ease now.”
Syrians are not always welcomed by the rest of the Jordanian population who feel refugees might endanger scarce jobs and other resources. But that doesn’t stop local Nazarene churches.
“You know, we have to change our perspective, our thinking — how we are thinking of these people,” Khalil said. “We don’t want to reject them, because as a Middle East people this is our chance to receive them. They are coming to our church. We need to support them, because, supporting, this is Jesus’ ministry. When He fed the 5,000, He couldn’t send them back to their homes with nothing.”
When refugees arrive in Lebanon or Jordan, they typically come with little more than what they are wearing. Most live in tents and inadequate shelters in their new country.
“We cannot be silent as a church,” said Pastor Zaki, who serves a local Nazarene church in Amman. “When we see people come from their countries with nothing, literally with nothing, only their clothes, we have to do something, as a church, to share with them what we have and to share with them also, the love of our God.”
The refugees in Jordan have all fled their homeland because of violence or persecution. They crave safety, a hopeful future, and dignity.
“I want my kids to do well in school,” Sabha said. “I wish not to have troubles and for my kids to remain safe.”
Nazarene churches in Jordan have been working to develop additional ways to provide basic needs, as well as supplies for the future. They point back to the Bible when they speak of their ministry to refugees.
“If you read Matthew 25, Jesus, he said … ‘When I am hungry, you feed me.’ This Scripture really touched our hearts. And when we started to serve the refugees, we felt we are feeding Jesus himself,” Khalil said.
Through education, food provision, housing assistance, and more, Nazarene congregations in Jordan are responding to the needs of refugees. Through love, respect, and service, the church is offering hope for the future and a glimpse of God’s love.
To learn more about the Church of the Nazarene’s refugee response, visit ncm.org/refugees.
How to help
Pray for wisdom for church leaders in Europe and the Middle East as they minister to refugee families in Jesus’ name. Pray for peace for children and adults who have been traumatized. Pray for health for families who are sleeping outside or in inadequate shelters in the cold and rain. Pray for the presence of God to be felt and a spirit of peace to reign in the midst of crisis.
Churches and individuals around the world can support efforts to minister to refugee families by giving to the NCM Refugee Support Fund. Donations will be used to provide both immediate relief aid and long-term resettlement assistance. To send donations by mail:
In the U.S., make checks payable to “General Treasurer” and send them to:
Global Treasury Services
Church of the Nazarene
P.O. Box 843116
Kansas City, MO 64184-3116
Be sure to put 125347 in the Memo area.
In Canada, make checks payable to “Church of the Nazarene Canada” and send them to:
Church of the Nazarene Canada
20 Regan Road, Unit 9
Brampton, Ontario L7A 1C3
Be sure to put 125347 in the Memo area.
In Germany, donate through Helping Hands e.V., IBAN: DE56 5075 0094 0000 022394, SWIFT-BIC: HELADEF1GEL.
For any other country, give through your local church or district, designating your gift to the NCM Refugee and Immigrant Support Fund.