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Dear friends,

 

Over the last several years, I have helped run a clinic for Arab refugees who have flooded our Middle Eastern country. Once these refugees arrive, the support infrastructure is corrupt and overloaded as thousands receive little help with a $42 monthly stipend to live. Our Arab-church based clinic has been able to offer free medicine for basic chronic health needs; during COVID-19, we’ve also started a monthly food voucher program for local fruits and vegetables.

As we serve this community, we have wrestled with the issue of how to integrate relief work with sharing the gospel. We are surrounded by desperate needs, and wonder if people only listen to our message because they know they will receive something. Is it wrong for them to have mixed motives? Do I come before the Lord with mixed motives? I have been challenged to think about how a hungry belly can hear the gospel when you look in the eyes of such desperate needs. It’s striking one of Jesus’ most famous miracles was feeding the 5,000 while preaching the kingdom stories.

 
Is it okay for motives to be tainted and yet still open the door for the gospel truth of Jesus?  Recently, a friend was passing out the food vouchers on a home visit.  The Yemeni refugee woman’s eyes filled with tears as she said she had dreamed the night before her small children had a table full of fruits and vegetables after two days without food.  She said, “God truly knows me.”  For a Muslim woman to realize this opens a powerful door for the gospel.

Another Sudanese refugee man was sitting on the steep stairs which line the hills of an urban low-income housing area.  He looked up at me as I approached with bewilderment.  I gave him his hypertensive medication as well as food vouchers.  He told me, “I just prayed and asked God if he cared about me.  You came walking down these stairs and gave me these gifts.”  This man began to gently weep of the ways the Lord had answered his desperate prayer after months of unemployment and despair.  He and his wife have been studying scriptures with us for over a year.

Isaiah 58:10 challenges us to meet the physical need as a way to usher in the opportunity to be a light for the spiritual need.  There is a partnership.

 
“Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be bright as noon.”
Can a hungry belly hear the gospel? Of course, our Savior can break through at any time. However, when people experience the Lord as one who meets their most basic needs, the diminishing physical ache allows them to be able to engage with the spiritual need for the light of the Gospel!
 
 
 
By a EPC WO global worker

Community Life

The Path - World Relief

If you want to see an end to extreme poverty, violence, oppression, and mass displacement, consider joining World Relief’s The Path. The Path is a monthly giving community of like-minding people who are committed to helping the most vulnerable. Watch a video about The Path here.

Displaced People in the Middle East

Watch this video and learn more about how you can pray specifically for refugees in the Middle East. 

Support Syrian Refugee Relief

Join the EPC in working with church partners in Lebanon, Turkey, and Germany to not only assist refugees with physical needs, but also to share the gospel to meet their spiritual needs. Donations to this fund will help with the Syrian refugee crisis in the Middle East and Europe. 

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