Is there Hope? Part 1 - Violence in the Holy Land

More than four years ago Syrian refugees in search of mercy began fleeing to neighboring countries to escape unspeakable mayhem in their homeland. Early in the crisis, compassionate outreach was abundant for those broken souls, with Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey opening their borders, and through 2013, Israel provided field hospital medical care to at least 700 severely wounded and critically ill innocent citizens who were delivered to or collapsed at checkpoints.

This is the first of a three-part series exploring the ongoing Middle East crisis gripping the lives of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) and the ties that bind three countries struggling for solutions - Holy Land’s internal conflicts, Lebanon’s limited capacity, and Turkey’s attempt at hospitality.

Borders Closed to Refugees

As months turned to years, the sheer number of displaced persons has created stunning instabilities throughout the Middle East. In addition to the 3,984,393 registered Syrian refugees, reignited violence in Iraq has created another tributary of terrified people looking for safety and all countries involved have their own IDPs. Palestinian refugees add to the sad, overwhelming overload of human misery.

Infrastructure in host nations has become taxed to the breaking point: water and food supplies, sanitation, safety, public health, housing, and environmental degradation. Dirt-cheap refugee laborers displace citizen workers. Resentment and competition simmer and sometimes boil into violence. Though Israel closed its borders from the beginning, refugees still came via the only pedestrian gateway - a dusty road through the Golan Heights.

Beleaguered nations are taking action in the name of national security: In October 2014, Jordan closed its borders to Syrian refugees; in March 2015, Turkey closed its last two border gates; in January 2015, Lebanon tightened entry to Syrian refugees by putting in place visa-like restrictions; and Israel cannot provide continuity of medical care beyond emergency treatment.

Desolation now shrouds the displaced and desperate.

Hope for IDPs in the Holy Land

However, since the beginning of this violent upheaval, the helping hands of the region’s local GHNI field TCD trainers have been ministering to shell-shocked families in the Holy Land with relief.

In such upended lives GHNI helps meet the refugees’ basic needs of food, water, clothing and hygiene, then shifts to aid in resettlement efforts with continued training in Transformational Community Development (TCD).

Training in the management of relational stress has been identified as a crucial need as the heavy stresses of displacement sink into the very bones of IDPs. GHNI offers wellness lessons for women and families and the results provide beacons of hope.

A wife and mother whose husband works long, hard hours struggles alone with their large family. “I am facing many difficulties to deal with them,” she says. “When I start the lessons about the effective parenting and how to have the good relationship with your children, I started to change my attitudes. I understood how important it is to love my children. This training helps me to change my way to be patient to talk with them.” These new insights have empowered this mother to be the uplifting change in her family that will establish a generational shift in parenthood modeling. Out of her horrific ordeal as a refugee rises the victory of love.

The psychological impact of forced migration or internal displacement ratchets negative emotions. A woman describes coming into the light after dark struggling with being “hot-tempered” with people: “I was there for GHNI training for a lesson on self-control. Recently, I was again in a situation in which I would normally just blow up; but before doing that, I remember the lesson, and I took control. I was so proud of myself!”

Word of the GHNI training opportunity has spread quickly and GHNI donor generosity supports new classes. “We started another training in a new village,” says Joe,* GHNI’s National Leader in the Holy Land. “They came early very encouraged because they have heard this great message of hope.”

Bringing Joy Back to the Holy Land

While the Holy Land region struggles with arguably the worst human crisis in its modern history, there are myriad opportunities to Bring Joy in July to the victims of merciless atrocities. Compassion can lighten hearts that have come to believe that life now is an endless night with a forever vanquished moon.

Will you bring Joy in July to the internally displaced in the Holy Land?

Read the rest of this series -
Is there Hope? Part 2: Refugees Seek Work in Lebanon
Is there Hope? Part 3: Turkish Hospitality for Refugees 

*For purposes of security and well-being, "Joe" is a pseudonym of the person involved in this project.