Generous contributions, totalling $26,800, from Texas Baptist individuals and churches helped numerous Syrian refugees survive yet another cold winter and spring in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon.
Donations were given through the Texas Baptists’ Refugee Relief Project, which originated in October 2014 through a partnership between Texas Baptists and the Lebanese Society for Educational and Social Development (LSESD).
The funds raised this winter and spring through the project will help support local Lebanese churches in their mission to be the hands and feet of Christ to the millions of Syrians who have been fleeing to Lebanon since civil war broke out in 2011.
This winter, an unexpected snowstorm invaded Lebanon on January 1, wrecking many Syrian refugee tents, according to a Newsweek report.
“Winter season is a scary season for refugees,” said Nabil Costa, executive director for LSESD. “I have seen with my own eyes their mattresses floating on water in their tents in the winter. This is not acceptable in 2016...Winterization is very necessary for refugees. They need to have it, otherwise they get sick and they die.”
Through the Refugee Relief Project and other partnerships, the LSESD was able to provide local churches with the following winter-survival materials, which were distributed to Syrian refugee households:
- 310 heating stoves
- Three large heating stoves for a Syrian school
- One-time donation for heating fuel for an orphanage
- 2,200 mattresses
- 2,000 blankets
- Heating fuel vouchers for 100 families for four months
“We are so happy that our churches are on the frontline. The vision of the Baptist Society (LSESD) is to empower the church in Lebanon through educational and social activities,” Costa said. “The number one thing (the refugees) need from us is to love them, to respect them, to recognize them and to admit they are there.”
And that is exactly what churches and LSESD are doing, Costa said, with help from partners like Texas Baptists.
“We do appreciate Texas Baptists a lot,” he said. “We appreciate the Baptists in Texas, and we appreciate all the help they are bringing to the other side of the Atlantic...We cannot help them on our own. This is Christianity, we compliment each other…We are family.”
In addition to funds raised through the Refugee Relief Project, $21,290 was given through the Texas Baptist Hunger Offering to LSESD and another $15,000 through European Baptists in Serbia.
Texas Baptists have committed to continue raising support for the Refugee Relief Project into the 2016 winter months. Check back in October for more details on how to get involved.