Leaders living and ministering in contexts of poverty and pressure have few – if any – financial reserves in the event disaster strikes. If an earthquake, tsunami, fatal disease or war hits their area, it is impossible for Partner Schools to carry on with ‘study as usual’ in the midst of chaos, trauma and grief.
Existing ministry partners are supplied with development aid in the event their geographic area is hit with a disaster of significant proportions. This enables them to bring profoundly practical leadership to their communities by being the ‘hands and feet’ of Jesus.
Immediate call for help - Bethlehem under quarantine
Excerpts from recent updates... April 12, 2020
The Lord is good to all: and His tender mercies are over all His works." Psalms 145:9
Greetings from Bethlehem
Today we pass day 38 of lockdown in the Bethlehem district. The health situation here is getting better, but we are not yet clear of the virus. Over recent days our town has not seen cases, although the wider West Bank has. Around 49 (out of 250+ cases) Palestinians have recovered. A major challenge is yet to come. Around 60,000 Palestinians who have been working in Israel are due to return because of the Passover Feast in Israel. These workers have been in a ‘red-zone’, according to the Israeli Health Minister. Palestine will remain in lockdown for a further 30 days until 6th May.
The Shepherd Society* were able to reach those in major need with provision of food and medicine, in cooperation with other emergency relief groups. We will continue to do this. We know the demand will rise because many organizations are running out of assistance. We must make sure that we can provide for whoever is in need and asks for help.
In addition to physical and economic needs, we at the Shepherd Society* have noticed that people are suffering psychologically. They seek encouragement and people to talk to. Last week we began to address this need. We now pray for, and reach out to, those we know of with this need.
We are at a great advantage in that we know our clients are able to discern those most in need and are trusted by the community. We are also able to negotiate with local markets when we make our purchases – some are willing to wait, but many require cash directly in order to purchase more stock.
In addition to material support, we need your prayers. It is difficult to see too far into the future, and we survive and provide help for others a month at a time.
In this town, where God chose to reveal Himself as a small and vulnerable baby, we know He is with us and understands our pain. Not the smallest need passes His attention. We trust in God’s provision. We trust our friends around the world to stand with us, as we stand with you in prayer.
Needs are intensified in a population in which many struggled before. In this present crisis, lack of employment and loss of income is a very real situation for so many people. We do not have a benefits system that can address this. We call on your support for the Shepherd Society*, as we strive to provide for those most in need in our town.
We have faith in our deliverance yet know that we must also play our part. We ask you, most fervently, to join us in supporting the people here during these very hard times. This can be through a number of Shepherd Society* programs: Medical costs / Family to family / Food Parcels
Shepherd Society Team-
Bethlehem Bible College
*The Shepherd Society is the branch of Bethlehem Bible College which aims to reach the less privileged in our town, and in our region. Our town is suffering, with people struggling with medical costs and to buy food and other necessities. Many people were struggling before the virus arrived. Now, they struggle even more. The situation will get worse before it gets better.
Esther*, Bequaa Valley, Lebanon
"When I leave my house, I don't think of danger. I think of the refugee families who need love. I think of Jesus, who was our Suffering Servant and example.”
The Suffering of Little Jaber and others like him - February 2019
Operation Ray in the Storm for Syrian Refugees this Winter
Our Partner Esther* who ministers to Syrian refugees in Lebanon has again reached out to us for help. Here in New Zealand we're enjoying a long hot summer, but the Beqaa Valley with its shack and tent settlements is experiencing one of the most severe winters in ten years. It's hard to imagine it even gets cold in Syria and Lebanon, but recently the snowfall was 100% for 24 hours with temperatures of -6 degrees, and severe flooding.
To cope, Esther and her teams have had to significantly increase their distribution of basic necessities (food, clothes, baby supplies, medical assistance) to the hundreds of families they support, and in particular fuel to help keep them warm. She shares the following story, which perfectly describes the dilemmas their workers frequently faces:
"As we were walking from one tent to another we met one of our little students, Jaber. Jaber comes to our [the ministry's] educational center because he was not accepted at any school in the area. We were shocked as we saw him shivering from the cold weather with no hat and jacket to wear. It was also surprising for us that although we gave Jaber a hat and a jacket at the start of winter he told us that he does not have them anymore. Upon further investigation we learned that his mother is selling Jaber’s clothes! This is terrible! However, when you know that his father is disabled and cannot earn any money and that the mother is selling Jaber’s clothes to bring bread... for the family of 9, you will have another perspective on the suffering of Jaber!"
A small child living in a tent in temperatures of -6 degrees, with no more covering than a T-shirt and jumper is an absolute tragedy! The results of a war on innocent people are bad enough, but that children and families continue to suffer in this way is one injustice heaped upon another.
Esther has launched "Operation Ray in the Storm" to help women, young mums, the elderly, babies, children and young people stay warm and well in the midst of the severe cold weather; have a direct experience of how the love Christ extends to them in such tough circumstances; and enable the core activities of the organisation to continue with significantly reduced interruption over the next few months.
Since 2010 Esther and her organisation and teams have been the 'hands and feet of Jesus' by providing family counselling, skills training, social services and relief aid to hundreds of families and thousands of people who have fled to Lebanon to escape the terrors of Syria's war. They focus on the economic, social, and developmental needs of women, young mothers and children.
But this particularly bad winter has pretty much brought the various development projects to a standstill. Sewing schools, special needs education, mother-care training, trauma counselling and the like are on hold as the team scramble to ensure that none of the sick, young or vulnerable die.
Esther is asking for our help. Please would you send Esther a gift to enable her to help others? We know that you care and will be prompted accordingly to act quickly!
Esther's calculations show that Operation Ray in the Storm needs NZ$50K to get through the winter season. We want to send as much money as we can to her, and would love to include your gift. For children and families in tents trying to cope it'll certainly be a ray of hope in amidst a storm.
Thank you in advance, and every blessing to you as you "do for the least of these".
How you can help
Your gift cares! Your gift enables leaders to take compassionate action and bring the practical love of Jesus to children, families and others in their community who are suffering as a result of a sudden disaster. Our current focus is on supporting Esther* working with Syrian refugee families in Lebanon, and in particular helping them get through winter living in tents.