SHINING A LIGHT ON THE REFUGEE CRISIS
Origins and Struggles of Refugees
Some of the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets I have ever seen are in the Middle East. The light illuminating ancient landscapes are absolutely breath-taking. Yet there is an underlying difficult and often dark issue in this region and around the world we often gloss over. In this first of three articles, we’re shedding light on the causes and origins of this crisis.
As the dusty, thin, wobbly tires of 2023 finally groaned to complete stop, the United Nations research teams were already busy with fresh estimates of a record 108.4 million refugees and internally displaced peoples world-wide; approximately half of whom are children.
Where do so many refugees come from and how did we get to this epic number of refugees world-wide? The short answer is power struggles over resources, land and religious issues. Within each areas, however, lie deep, dark chasms often unlit for generations. Wars (see page two for a list of current wars) force people to temporarily leave homes and communities, however often families are simply unable to return, and they find themselves as refugees. Unstable governments and economies exacerbate conditions, making life unbearable. In the haste of leaving, parents cannot obtain school, work or medical records, delaying or stopping education, work and medical care. It can be a vicious cycle as families struggle with new situations.
A significant refugee-producing region is the Middle East and Africa, and while refugees are a centuries-old problem, the record number of displaced peoples currently should concern us all. Why? Because global leaders have at their fingers buttons that once pushed effect millions in an instant – one day it could be you. I’ve been reading Kim Ghattas’ book, Black Wave: Saudi Arabia, Iran and the Forty Year Rivalry that Unraveled Culture, Religion, and Collective Memory in the Middle East. It isn’t an easy read; Kim’s words are written from a broken heart, as she once called this region home. Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shia Iran, once allies and a strong part of the United States strategy in the region, have become mortal enemies. Subsequent conflicts have grown and reverberated across the world forever changing millions of lives, including next generations who have no say in how these conflicts and wars have changed their future. Recent blood-streaked headlines of the Israel/Gaza war and rumblings from Hezbollah, Iran and Iraq remind us that we should not ignore the heartache millions face daily world-wide. Israelis, Palestinians, Lebanese, Iranians and Iraqis all matter to God. God sees the refugees too. He is also using the re-location of refugees to influence communities and nations.
When my late husband John felt God’s calling in 1990 to work in the Middle East, I had little knowledge of the region in modern terms, and struggled to share his enthusiasm. I had studied the Bible, visited Israel, yet found I was basically ignorant of many peoples, current issues and needs. At the right time, and with John’s stubborn determination, I opened my eyes to see a broader scope of the region, the Church and the refugee crisis. Today, my prayer is that you too will turn a light on in your heart to the plight of refugees.
Indigenous Ministries is committed to be the hands and feet of Jesus to refugees we work with as well as others in vulnerable situations in the Middle East through our local churches and local teams. I am committed to expanding our footprint in the Middle East in 2024. This means giving our teams more training and encouragement. It means sponsors for more children, because we know sponsorships work so well. It means giving them a future language and vocational classes.
It means a new vehicle for our ministry in N. Iraq and raising $30,000 for this critical need. We have a generous donor who will match any gift up to $15,000 towards this new vehicle. Praise God!!
We are salt and light in a dark world representing Christ. Pray with me that God will show his might and power through us, through our teams! Thank you for being part of this ministry.
Blessings and love,
Dee A. Cook, CEO