[SLIDESHOW=41409,41410,41411,41412,41413]CENTRAL ASIA (BP) — Millions of people across Central Asia have crossed borders to escape war, persecution and violence. While Southern Baptists continue to respond, many refugees cling to a hope that wanes with each passing day.
The following includes a list of 10 realities about refugees that many may not yet realize. Also, learn ways you can pray and how Baptist Global Response is helping meet needs.
1. Children are suffering. Half of Syrian refugees are under the age of 18. Three out of four children have lost a loved one because of the war and desperately need crisis counselors. Volunteers who can organize education, English, art or sports camps play a vital role in ministering to children, many of whom are not enrolled in any structured school program.
2. Shelter is insufficient. Refugee camps in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon are at capacity. Thousands of refugees are left to sleep on the streets.
3. Winter is approaching. Most refugees flee with only the clothes on their back and a cell phone. Many are unprepared for approaching winter weather.
4. Food is scarce. Refugees who travel across borders often subsist on one meal a day. Provision of food is a critical aspect of refugee relief.
5. Refugees are at risk for exploitation. Crowded housing conditions, which include people living in abandoned buildings, place many at risk of abuse. Pray for God to protect refugees, especially children, from those who prey on the vulnerable and oppressed.
6. Many refugees are educated. A journalist said he fled his country because he was persecuted for expressing his views on the Internet. Refugees may have been engineers, medical professionals, accountants, educators or artists in their home countries. There is a wide diversity of professions represented on the refugee highway.
7. Refugees are diverse. Refugees may speak Arabic, Persian, Kurmanji, Sorani or Urdu. They represent many different people groups — Assyrian, Syrian, Kurdish, Yazidi, Afghani, Persian or Pakistani. Meeting the needs of so many peoples can be a challenge for relief workers, but it presents an incredible opportunity for sharing the Gospel.
8. The road to freedom is dangerous. Refugees risk their lives when they flee their countries. According to government reports, 30 people drowned near the Greek island of Lesvos in a period of four months, yet local workers estimate the actual number to be more than 250. In total, close to 3,000 people have died crossing the Mediterranean Sea to arrive in Europe.
9. Orphans are at risk. The most vulnerable refugees are unaccompanied minors, many of whom have been out of school for a year or more. Volunteer teams could provide critical support through English, art, science or sports camps for refugee children.
10. Refugees laugh, love and hurt. Refugees are men, women and children just like any other man, woman or child in the world. Anyone could become a refugee given the right political circumstances.
— Pray for God to give you a heart full of compassion for those who have been forced from their homes and are adrift in the world.
— Pray the Lord would heal our broken world through Christ, the Prince of Peace.
— Pray God will bring eternal hope to many refugees through the Gospel message of a heavenly Father, forgiveness through Christ and a home in heaven that will never fade away.
— Pray God will execute justice for the weak and the fatherless and deliver them from the hand of the wicked.
— Pray God will give people the desire, resources and time to walk in obedience as they learn about refugees.
Learn more about how Baptist Global Response is responding to refugee needs in places like Syria, Northern Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Greece by going to gobgr.org/projects/project_detail/syria-crisis. For instance, blankets for refugees –- which people can help provide for $10 a blanket — are being distributed through BGR. Learn more about how you or a team can serve groups of refugees in Central Asia through sports or education opportunities for two months or more by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, contact Jeff Palmer at email@example.com to learn about other opportunities.