So often we tend to quantify a touched life, a changed life, with numbers on a page. The numerals that make up the “bottom line.” But numbers can’t tell the story of the humanity behind them— the relationships formed, gifts received, meals shared and stories told. A bottom line stretches quite a distance and encompasses much more than the numerical equation of ministry. Jesus’ bottom line was touching people with compassion.
Yes, this past week World Compassion distributed food to over 3,000 Syrian refugees. We hosted a medical team from In His Image which treated over 500 Syrian refugees as patients. We saw several miraculous conversions to Christ by men of influence. All 3,500 people we touched heard the message of Christ and received The Story of Jesus booklets with the message of salvation. We can quantify this was quite a powerful week in ministry.
However, we also experienced a shift in culture – a tangible change in momentum. The door began to open. Let me provide a few examples.
There isn’t a better place for Syrian refugees to regain their life than Kurdistan. For all around them is a living testament to those who have overcome the very same tragedies Syrians are suffering today. Those living in Kurdistan are all too familiar with the sufferings of the Syrians, for the Iraqi Kurdish people lost 300,000 people to genocide under oppression from Saddam Hussein. Their resilience to rebuild not only their lives, but also to carve out a new blossoming federal region with the fastest growing economy and safest cities in the region, is a testament to their resolve.
Similarly, Syrians do not want to be victims and do not hold a victim mentality. They are not looking for a program to support them long-term; they just need a little help to get back on their feet. These are people who had “normal” lives before the war started. For them, a normal life looks much like the normal life you have. They want and need help to restore their homes, education, employment and security. They want to be a functioning part of society, not a beggar.
Iraqi Kurds and Syrian Kurds are working together to improve the refugee situation. We saw this time and again. When the medical clinic opened, we didn’t have enough translators, so we recruited some local college students studying English. We offered payment, but when they learned what we were doing, they just wanted to participate.
Another day, we ran short on some medicines. I visited the hospital administrator who promptly provided our needed medicines, free of charge. During our food distribution, a man came forward with the help of his parents. He had been a soldier in the Syrian conflict but was thrown from a five-story building. His back was shattered, barely able to walk and certainly not in his right mind. The refugees took up an offering to help him and his family. Victims don’t do these things, survivors do.
But even resolve does not bring healing. Human interaction with our team is what they desired most. Every Syrian refugee was extremely grateful for the food and medical assistance. But had we sent food without people, it would not have had the same dramatic effect. One Muslim man said, “I’ve never heard of Mohammad traveling thousands of miles to help people.”
And our presence opened the door for Jesus. Through the week we had many meals, discussions and interactions with Muslims that provided an opportunity for us to discuss Jesus with them. There was no hostility; in fact, we found great curiosity and a few who decided to give their lives to Christ.
The Syrian people are meeting Jesus, and the bottom line just keeps growing when God’s people rally together to serve.