God is bringing more and more of the refugees in Turkey to a saving knowledge of his grace through our partners there.
The recent pandemic continues to affect people around the world in ways that we could have never anticipated at the beginning of 2020.
One particular group that has been hard hit by closed borders and quarantine restrictions has been refugees who are now stranded outside of their homeland but perhaps not at the destination they hoped to reach. Many have been separated from family members not only by the conflict in their home country but also now by COVID-19 restrictions.
World Challenge’s partners in Turkey have been working to help refugee families who are caught in the middle of this worldwide situation.
Finding the Trustworthy Ones
Pastor Yousef is one of the leaders who works with Syrian-Kurd immigrants and refugees. Many of those he serves are new in faith; some came to know Christ as much as 3-4 years back, while others are only months or weeks into their new faith.
Many of these new Kurdi Christians are eager to learn more about God and the Bible. Most had never heard the gospel news while they were in Syria before the conflict forced them to flee. In this big new country where they have taken refuge, they are free to choose a new faith. “Many Muslims are so dismayed with Islam,” one team member explained, “because they have seen so much blood shed in the name of religion.”
Pastor Yousef is an important champion for the Syrian-Kurd population in his region because they trust him and listen to him. This is an enormous help to the rest of the team and the larger organization since issues with communication and mistrust often hang heavily over the refugees as they struggle to acclimate to a new country’s rules and a different culture. Who to trust and who will actually help them are major questions they have to address.
Many refugees are exploited for low-income jobs in unsafe conditions. They cannot get better wages like the nationals, and UNHCR funds do not go to the refugees, in spite of mandatory requirements that say otherwise.
Despite the challenges, many Kurds are simply happy to be alive and living in Turkey where there is no militarized conflict.
A Hunger for Christ to be Revealed
Pastor Yousef is currently working to connect new Kurdish believers with local Turkish churches. It is not so easy as it may sound because of cultural differences and language barriers but also that all of the Kurd believers are fairly new and lots of disciplining is required.
Alongside the spiritual discipleship, there is a great need for the refugees to be equipped with practical work skills. Pastor Yousef is burdened to find a small building or center they can rent and where the immigrants will come and develop skills like tailoring or welding so they can provide better for their families and build a life in Turkey.
One of the World Challenge team who was able to visit these fledgling believers with Pastor Yousef said, “It was wonderful to have fellowship with them and pray with and for them. One of the best blessing I had was to listen to some wonderful stories of liberation from sin and condemnation. How they are seeing light in their dreams and later came to know that it was Christ they had seen. …[T]here is so much hunger to know about Christ.”