Greetings from Beqaa Valley (Lebanon)

When I prepare to take a trip to a place like a refugee camp, something inside me braces emotionally. I know that I'm going to hear difficult stories. I know in advance that I won't be able to "fix" anyone's major problems. 

The temptation is to harden, and to glaze the eyes. But our encouragement from scripture is to follow our Lord's lead. Just as God, "comforts us in all our troubles, so...we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God."
 
We have had an amazing opportunity here in Lebanon to visit several refugee camps and to visit many Syrian refugee families in their refugee tents, and some in their apartments in Beirut. Many of them are filled with hope -- not in the human sense, but in a sense where they have understood God's love for them and have been introduced to spiritual hope in a way that could never have happened apart from these tragic events. God is turning tears to hope. 

As we shadow some great organizations here on the ground, we have had the opportunity to participate in food distribution, observe a dental clinic, help with English classes for Syrian mothers while their children participate in summer camp, observe churches set up non-official educational schools for Syrian children (official schools aren't allowed because Syrians are "illegal" here in Lebanon), and share God's love with people. 

Very importantly, we have helped them feel heard. We listen as they share of not knowing where their fathers are (or even if they are alive).

One young woman shared of her pregnant sister dying as they fled Syria, unable to get medical care because hostile forces that had surrounded their area would not allow them to leave to go to a hospital. Her pregnancy turned too complicated, and without the ability to obtain a c-section, both the mother and baby were lost. 

As she shared her story, one member of our group listened and compassionately shared her own story of loss. The two women related in ways that transcended language and cultural barriers. 

The Welcome Network plans to continue to include a global component in our work. 99+% of refugees will not make it to a third country for resettlement. We will continue to identify, support, and partner with local organizations doing God's work on the ground.

Thank you for your support, partners, volunteering, and partnership! 

-- Tony Burrell