Refugees are loved by Christ, and Crossroads
The refugee and immigration crisis continues to be one of the most polarizing issues in America — and it even divides Christians. However, God didn’t leave us in the dark about this situation. The wisdom of the Bible is both simple and timeless about how we should treat immigrants, refugees and those in need of help.
He (God) defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt. (Deuteronomy 10:18-19)
Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. (Ezekiel 16:49)
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ (Matthew 25:25-36)
For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself." (Galatians 5:14)
If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? (1 John 3:17)
Crossroads actually believes, and strives to follow, those Biblical imperatives. In that spirit of compassionate, Christ-like mission, two men from our church traveled to Jordan in January as part of a team filming a documentary about the Church’s response to the refugee crisis in the Middle East.
While shooting, Phillip Palacios and Joe Sindorf visited many Iraqi and Syrian refugee families, both in the capital city and along the Jordanian / Syrian border. They experienced the biting cold temperatures in the meager concrete apartment buildings, and saw the happiness in the faces of the families as they were given heaters (provided by Crossroads) and bags of staple food items.
Over multiple conversations and countless cups of tea, they discovered the heart of these people — some still angry, depressed and hurting from the inhuman and barbaric oppression and attacks they endured, but others radiating the love and forgiveness of Christ that could only come from a heart devoted to Him.
One such visit was with the Leki family.
Ibrahim and his wife Salma are from the Nineveh Valley in Iraq. They have three grown children.
Although the Leki family had economic hardships, life wasn’t bad. Ibrahim was an elementary school teacher and enjoyed his work, his family and their home.
But then ISIS arrived and they had to evacuate or face being killed for being Christians. On August 7, 2014, a day after most of their neighbors had already fled, they realized the horrible truth that they too had to escape. They quickly gathered up their identification papers and a few things they could carry and left their home and everything they owned to flee to Kurdistan. The trip which normally takes 45 minutes took 14 hours.
In Kurdistan (a semi-autonomous region of eastern Iraq) they lived in tents — with hundreds of other displaced families — in the churchyard of the Catholic church. They finally realized that they would never be able to return to their home and on April 14, 2015, Ibrahim and Salma along with their eldest son, Manhal, traveled to Jordan to register as refugees with the United Nations and apply to be resettled in another country.
Ibrahim is a wonderful man. He laughs easily and loves to tell stories. He is well educated and enjoys discussing history and other topics. He loves to read. When we asked him what needs his family had, after being coaxed to come up with some request, he asked for a Bible, a large one with big letters, to make it easier for his 77 year old eyes to read.
He misses his home — an obvious observation — as his eyes begin to water when he talks about his past and the old days in Iraq. Ibrahim said, "One's country is like your own child… very precious." He had hoped things would have gotten better in Iraq so they could return, but that just wasn’t the case. Now he says they are open to wherever they are welcome to start their new home, “anywhere God leads us will be our country. Our unknown future is in His hands.”
They talk wistfully about their former life — the joys of teaching, the gatherings around heaping tables of food with their friends and family — and they talk about ISIS. “They hurt us, they took everything but our lives. Now we have nothing but God, and He is enough.”
Please pray for Ibrahim and Salma. They are warm, thanks to a heater provided by Crossroads and our ministry partner in Jordan, but life is a struggle. It is illegal for them to look for any kind of job, so (like the millions of other refugees currently in Jordan) they are fully dependent on the kindness and generosity of others for their daily survival.
If you would like to meet and minister to wonderful refugee families like this, please consider joining a short-term missions trip. There is another trip planned for 2017 in November. Send a message to to receive information on how you can personally make an impact of eternal significance in the lives of refugee families who feel isolated, alone, afraid and unsure of the future.