It's hard to believe my last post was Easter. In case you wondered where I went, I've been teaching two classes for Fuller, plus rewriting my first book The Soul at Rest (to be released in 2018!). I've had so many moments when I wanted to blog about things that deeply matter to me, but it just hasn't been possible.
Today I am writing to share something very special. Joe and I have had the privilege of working with a Syrian refugee family for several months now, and I want to tell you their story and ask you to consider being a part of it. I've never used this blog or website for anything other than resources for your spiritual journey, but just this once I felt compelled to share my heart! Here then is their story.
When the war between rebel forces and the Syrian government made this family's home of Aleppo what can only be described as a living hell, Saleh, along with his pregnant wife Alia and their two small children packed what they could carry and began a trek across the desert, trying to reach Jordan. They walked for some 30 days, occasionally hitching a ride in trucks with goats and sheep, and every night they slept out under the open stars. As they drew near to Jordan, the danger increased, so they found an abandoned house, where they hid in darkness for 11 days, terrified they'd be found and killed by ISIS. Finally, braving the terrain and imminent risks, they worked their way to a camp on the border of Jordan that had become the home of some 83,000 other refugees like them. For the next three years they went through the incredibly extensive vetting process hoping to immigrate as refugees to the United States. Last October they made it to San Diego.
Joe and I met this beautiful family through a refugee sponsorship program and we have been getting to know them for several months now. When we visit, they always insist on laying out a beautiful meal for us, even during Ramadan when they weren't eating. They show immense gratitude for our friendship and any help we offer. A couple of weeks ago we took school supplies to the two older children and watching little Esraa's delight in a simple pencil box brought tears to my eyes. Their life is not easy. They do not speak English and Saleh, who once had a successful business as a builder, now drives an ice cream truck and waits daily at a car-wash, hoping they will need him. The U.S. government offers minimal help with food stamps and welfare, but also requires that they begin to repay the money that was spent in bringing them to the United States within six months.
While we have been very thankful for a dear Syrian friend at church who usually goes with us and translates, and also helps support this family, over the past few months we have begun to see that we need to bring others along with us on this journey. We hope some local folks can get to know our Syrian friends, but beyond that, there are financial needs we cannot meet by ourselves.
If you live in San Diego and want to join our team, please email me--we'd love to have you! For the rest of you, if you would like to give towards helping this family get established, you can do so through New Hope Church as a tax-deductible donation. Right now this family is about four hundred dollars a month short in income just to meet the bare minimum bills, and our goal is to set up a one year plan that will move them gradually on their own. They are working very hard to be independent, but the hurdles are immense.
Finally, we would ask you to pray for these precious people, and indeed all the refugees that are in the same situation. If you would like regular updates on how things are going, please email me--this is the only time I will post this on the blog. You can give through New Hope in any way you wish--a one time gift or some regular amount.
Here is how you can give:
Click here first. Once there, click on the "online giving link." Choose "Syrian Refugees" under the Ministry Donation link and complete the form.
You can also mail checks to:
New Hope Church
10330 Carmel Mountain Road
San Diego, CA 92129