Would you put your family’s life at risk if you knew it was the only way to help your daughter get the help she needed?
Bilal emigrated from Syria to Koya in Northern Iraq some years ago. He served as a police officer in the city of Koya but had requested and was given the task of taking care of thousands of refugees as they streamed in from Syria starting in 2013. These were his people, and he wanted to help them, so he arranged for housing through the government and did his best to try and find aid.
There was little to be found since these refugees did not live in a UN camp.
About 3 years ago World Compassion met Bilal and offered our assistance, and shortly thereafter we were on the ground to help structure monthly food deliveries in partnership with a local pastor who wanted to reach Syrian refugees for Christ.
In October 2013, just three months later, my father Dr. Terry Law was in Iraq with a team, ministering at a food distribution. That evening Bilal and a friend visited my dad and the team at their hotel room. In an intimate moment my father shared the gospel, and both Bilal along with his friend wholeheartedly gave their lives to Jesus Christ. You may recall this story we shared in past communications.
Since that day, Bilal has been working with World Compassion to provide aid to refugees. Bilal is a bold leader representing, defending, and preaching Jesus Christ in Iraq. He has stood up to death threats and commands to stop preaching and loving on refugees, but he has persisted month in and month out for over two years. He has managed each food distribution since we began, approximately 30 in all, coordinating and leading people while ministering the love of Christ.
Bilal has a beautiful family who today all love Jesus. His daughter Arena, who is 9 years old, was born with a disability.
The treatment she needs is not available in Iraq.
Seeking a better life for his family and medical treatment for his daughter, Bilal made the tough decision to leave his work in Koya with our full blessing and support.
As a refugee himself who does not have the necessary paperwork to travel customarily, Bilal made the decision to once again leave his home as a refugee. Just days after Christmas, Bilal’s family left Iraq and began the treacherous journey to travel through Turkey and ultimately find a boat to take them to Greece. The journey for refugees can take weeks. They can experience fraud from smugglers, abuse from border guards and discrimination from citizens who believe they may be terrorists invading their country.
Refugees are scorned at each step of their journey to freedom.
A few days later we received an urgent call from a mutual friend who had just talked to Bilal. Their family was safe on the west coast of Turkey after completing the first 1,200 miles of their journey. As they began to prepare themselves for the overnight raft trip across the Mediterranean Sea to Greece, Bilal confessed he was scared for his family and asked for prayer. The seas were rough, the water freezing cold, and he knew many refugees had died crossing the Mediterranean.
That night the word was passed through our staff at World Compassion and our families prayed for his family as they braved the stormy waters. The next morning we checked the news to learn that 13 refugees had died that night, including five children. We franticly worked to find out if Bilal was okay, and thankfully his Facebook posts showed them safe in Greece. They had made it halfway, but the next steps were not easy.
Bilal and his family continued their journey through the Balkan countries as all refugees do, traveling one of two routes from Greece to Germany. Some travel through Macedonia to Serbia, Hungary, Austria and finally into Germany. Others travel through Macedonia, Albania, Croatia and Austria before arriving in Germany. The route is clear, and cities have adapted makeshift aid stations to try and cope with the overwhelming sea of refugees coming in and out of their cities like the tide.
Bilal and his family arrived safely in Germany and are currently being resettled. Our outreaches in Koya continue, as Bilal’s brother is now helping to coordinate distributions with us along with a local church that is in the process of starting a new church in Koya as a result of World Compassion’s work there. We have weekly ministry and meetings taking place today thanks to your faithful partnership and prayer!
Our team will be traveling soon to follow up with Bilal’s brother as well as the weekly meetings taking place. We look forward to bringing back more reports in the coming month.
Will you consider making a special donation to the work of World Compassion and all that is taking place around the world in nations like Iraq, Iran, China, and Burma. We want to thank you for your generosity!
How Our Work Is Expanding to Eastern Europe
Last October World Compassion had a team visit Athens, Greece to assess the need and meet with local pastors who could provide aid and evangelize the refugees as they pass through. Our belief was that the UN was heavily involved in providing aid, but surprisingly enough, they were not.
Our team visited the Olympic facility in Athens that is used to house refugees as they migrate. Refugees were allowed to stay up to three days – that was it. Just enough time to rest and catch their breath before moving on.
We walked through the basketball facility, dozens of basketball courts covered with tents where families slept. Outside children played soccer on the concrete with trash cans as goals. As we interviewed the camp director, assessing needs they may have, we watched cars pull in and unload a few bags of groceries from their trunks. The UN and other large organizations simply were not present. The Greek government didn’t have the resources to help.
Through the support of World Compassion partners like you, we were able to step in and send a container of food, approximately 275,000 meals, to six pastors in Athens who began distributing food and ministering the love of Jesus Christ to refugees.
As a result, we have now expanded our refugee aid to Eastern Europe. As we watched the flow of refugees coming in and out, we felt the need, but saw the reality of what the journey of a refugee could become. What if every time a refugee traveled to Germany through Greece, Macedonia, Serbia, Hungary and Austria, they were met by life-giving Christians from local churches who provided food, aid, literature on Jesus, love and compassion! We hope you will join us in prayer that by the time they get to Germany, God will start a revival among these people.
Our team headed back to Eastern Europe in January to meet with pastors from Macedonia, Bulgaria, Serbia, and Croatia to see how World Compassion could help unify the churches and expand the refugee work that has begun in Athens.
Your partnership is the critical factor in making this happen. We are continuing to provide food to thousands of refugee families in Iraq on a monthly basis but also expanding our relief efforts to Eastern Europe where we can be even more open with the Gospel message.
This month represents the fifth anniversary of the Syrian Civil War. One of the most stable, wealthy and educationally advanced countries in the Middle East has been reduced to rubble. It is now the Somalia of the Middle East. Refugees will continue to flood Europe as the German borders remain open, and probably beyond.
Together you and I have a special opportunity to help unify churches all throughout Eastern Europe, teach them how to work together and equip them with aid to evangelize and feed refugees.
There is no doubt this is a difficult situation for all, but despite the difficulty, you and I have a chance to reach more refugees for Christ. By doing so we are at the same time lifting the arms of our European brothers and sisters who are now on the front lines being flooded with refugees from Syria and Iraq.
This month is a critical month for us at World Compassion. We need to raise $146,000 (£104,000) for our refugee relief efforts. We know God has blessed World Compassion with generous partners, people who are sensitive to the refugee crisis and want to help.
As we continue our work in Northern Iraq, we need to raise money to ship three containers of food as well as purchase supplemental food and toiletry items each month. Right now our warehouse in Iraq is almost empty, and we desperately need to ship these three additional containers. Today we need to raise over $110,000 (£78,000) to deliver three containers and purchase the additional food items needed.
In addition to these needs in Iraq, we need $36,000 (£25,500) immediately to open new aid stations to equip local churches in Eastern Europe to reach refugees in their cities. This money will help us ship three 40-foot containers of aid, allowing us to reach thousands of people coming out of the Middle East.
Your monthly support of $100 (£72) will feed a refugee family of four each month and equip a local church to bring the message of Jesus Christ with every food pack we deliver. $25 (£18) will feed a single refugee. $12,000 (£8,500) will pay for the shipping of an entire container of food, approximately 275,000 meals. Would you give towards shipping a container this month?
Please prayerfully consider making a generous gift today to help us share the love of Christ with thousands of refugees in need of immediate help. Together, we can stand in the gap for these people. You are the invisible hero to these refugees.