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It’s been just over a week since we held our Western Workshop in Calgary at Samaritan's Purse Canada. Did you know that Samaritan’s Purse has delivered approximately 700,000 Operation Christmas Child gift boxes this year in 6 countries? From those connections, over 94,000 decisions have been made for the Lord.

At our Western Workshop, we were delighted to host 18 participants from BC, Alberta and Ontario. Darren DeGraaf was our speaker for the day and he engaged us in how to become better leaders in our workplace. For those of you who have not had the opportunity to hear Darren speak, I would highly recommend him as a coach for your executive management team.
We should congratulate and pray for all the Members of Parliament who have been recently elected or re-elected. I was encouraged a few years ago to meet with our local MP and update him about the work of Emmanuel International.  I would encourage other member organizations to do the same so you can reach out for help from the government when it is needed.

If you have not yet registered for our Eastern Workshop on November 16 at World Vision Canada to hear Dr. Steve Brown, please contact us at CCRDA. If you have already registered, we encourage you to sign up your executive team as they would also benefit from the day.

At the end of November, I would like to welcome Darlene Bartha who will be filling in for Joella Reitsma as CCRDA Administrator while Joella is on maternity leave. We wish Joella all the best as a new mom and look forward to seeing pictures of the addition to their family. Please introduce yourself to Darlene at our Eastern Workshop!

As we approach the Christmas season, let’s each take one of our CCRDA member organizations (not our own) and pray that God will use them greatly over Christmas.

God Bless,
Richard McGowan, CCRDA Chair
I Was Hungry and You Fed Me:  The Syrian Refugee Crisis

You have been a defense for the helpless, a defense for the needy in distress, a refuge from the storm, a shade from the heat (Isaiah 25:4).  The Syrian Refugee crisis has uprooted millions from their homes and scattered nations across the globe.  By boat, by raft, by relief plane, by foot, they journey in search of safe havens.  It has overwhelmed many countries by the sheer magnitude of people fleeing war and terror.  The services required to deal with it are equally daunting and stretch even the most experienced governments and agencies.  Families are stepping up to take in strangers to their homes in Europe and especially to help the unaccompanied children that have been victims of an unknown assailant on their way of life. To them, equally unknown governments now also argue over their fate.  The situation has doubtless stirred the hearts of many, with lines being drawn, borders being raised and tensions that challenge the very stability of Europe. The Schengen region that cherishes free passage now contemplates or erects razor wire and stations troops on their border.  Some argue for more to be done to integrate the fleeing masses, while others push back and say they have done enough.  What started as a humanitarian imperative to help has turned into an international crisis that may take years to resolve; while people wait to see what happens next.  No one expected this and many say they’ve not seen the likes of it before.  Or have we?

“Now the sons of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about 600,000 people on foot, aside from children… they were driven out of Egypt and could not delay, nor had they prepared any provisions for themselves” (Exodus 12).

As Christian, we’ve heard the stories of the exodus and from a young age, understood that God had a plan and would take care of his people.  We were also taught that generosity is at the heart of our faith; without pride and without prejudice.  In a sense, a Christian imperative as well as an humanitarian one.  However one perceives this modern day exodus - the risks, the security threat or the economic burden - we cannot ignore the humanitarian imperative and our role as Christians.  Remember the crowds that asked John the Baptist, "What then should we do?" He said to them, "Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise" (Luke 3:10-11).  We’re called, both as relief and development agencies and as followers of Christ, to feed the hungry and help those in trouble!  (Isaiah 58:10-11); free of judgment.  We must have faith that God has a plan for resolving the disputes and will integrate his flock.  We should certainly not react from a basis of self-preservation or fear.  As you search your heart for an answer to this crisis and seek those things which you think you can or can‘t do to help, remember these words:  'For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in" (Matt 25:35).
Burundian refugee camp in Rwanda (left) and Syrian refugee children in Iraq (right)

When Food for the Hungry (FH) began, its main purpose was to feed those who were desperately hungry. That included those suffering from extreme poverty, natural disasters, wars, etc. Today, the primary focus of FH is long term, sustainable, community development. When a crisis strikes, however, FH Canada is quick to respond by fundraising for partners who specialize in crisis response, and by providing relief through the FH International Medical Equipment Distribution (IMED) program. In countries where FH Canada is already actively engaged, however, it strives to support its communities in every way possible.

This year, FH Canada has been involved with two different groups of refugees. The first was in Burundi where FH partners with two community clusters. In early spring, violent protests began in the capital when the president declared his intention to run for a third term in office. Having only recently emerged from a protracted and bloody civil war, the vast majority of Burundians had no interest in sticking around for another potentially deadly conflict. Thousands of refugees began pouring over the borders into Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Tanzania, and Rwanda. FH Rwanda, supported by FH Canada, was quick to visit the Burundian refugee camps and begin to support children’s programs, supply food, and provide medical equipment (wheelchairs). In addition, FH Canada continues to walk with partnered communities in Burundi to overcome poverty, thereby increasing long term social stability and decreasing the benefit of violent protest.

The second group of refugees FH Canada has supported this year is Syrian refugees in Iraq. Through IMED, FH Canada has shipped one container of medicine and supplies to stock sparse refugee clinics, and a second container of over one million servings of food aid in the form of nutrient-rich, dried soup mix. The hope is to continue strengthening partnerships with local aid organizations and local government in order to send regular shipments of support to those fleeing the civil war in Syria and the violence of ISIS in Iraq.

While FH Canada is not primarily a relief organization, it cannot stand idly by while millions of refugees roam the world, looking for help and hope. Being a small organization, however, it must be strategic in where it chooses to get involved so that the help FH provides is thoughtful and effective. Excellence at work must remain a top priority, especially when working with such a vulnerable group as refugees.
Fatema’s sister says her children are losing a sense of home because they have been displaced six times by the war in Syria.

The horrific war in Syria recently entered its fifth year. Over 200,000 people have been killed and over one million injured. More than half of all Syrians (7.6 million) have been displaced from their homes and the number of people fleeing urban areas continues to grow.

Fatema and her husband Farid fled their home in Syria after conflict engulfed their town in early 2011. Their lives in Syria had been comfortable, with Farid making a steady living and the two of them excitedly planning their future together. Then violence filled the streets and militants broke into their home, and everything changed.


Left with nothing and fearing for their lives, they decided to flee to Lebanon where some of their family members were living.

With millions of Syrian refugees now living in Lebanon competing for scarce jobs, food, and other resources, the local Lebanese population is frustrated and frequently treats refugees poorly.

Fatema and Farid were among the fortunate few able to find a small apartment in Lebanon and some part-time work for Farid. Life was still a struggle, however, and they could barely afford to pay their rent or put food on the table. Their son was born in Lebanon and has spent his entire life as a refugee.

“We were humiliated in Syria when the war started, and now we are humiliated in Lebanon,” Farid explains.

Through generous supporters and strong partnerships, World Renew has been able to bear witness to the love of Christ to people like Fatima and Farid in the midst of the escalating humanitarian crisis in the Middle East. To date, World Renew has provided more than $7.5 million in assistance, which includes food, blankets, shelter and other assistance to displaced families in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. This assistance has freed Fatema, Farid, and their extended family’s finances up so that they can pay their rent and buy additional food.

Unfortunately, after many years of programming, World Renew’s funds for its Syria response have begun to run out even though the crisis in Syria shows no sign of ending. Our projects in Jordan ended in October 2015. The projects in Syria and Lebanon will continue for another six months. Please continue to keep this situation in your prayers.

To find out more about World Renew’s Syria crisis response, go to worldrenew.net/syriaconflict.


 
Since the beginning of the Syrian War in 2011, Partners International Canada and our partner, the Free Evangelical Association of Lebanon (FEAL), have been involved in providing care and humanitarian relief for those who have fled the violence that has overtaken their country. FEAL works in strategic locations in countries such as Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Syria to reach those who have fled their homes in fear. Our primary work has focused on Lebanon, where over 1.2 million refugees currently live in a country of only four million. FEAL works with families that are either in the capital city of Beirut, where the Bourj Hammoud slum is home to thousands of refugees, or in the Bekaa Valley where millions have set up makeshift shelter as they wait for peace. These are people who are trapped in transition, they are in a place where they cannot move forward with their refugee papers, or go home, leaving them stranded in a foreign country with no future plans.


FEAL is working in a variety of ways to reach the least reached, least resourced people of the country. In Beirut, FEAL has organized a weekly program called the Oasis Project that is directly focused on community building. Oasis creates a safe environment where women and children can have their dignity restored. It provides a place where children can come and receive love in the form of education, physical activity and creating lasting relationships. It is a place where women can not only find income generating training, but Bible classes where they interact with passionate FEAL volunteers demonstrating God’s love in practical ways.

Partners International Canada is also involved in the distribution of humanitarian relief in the Bekaa Valley, located between 10 to 15 kilometers away from the Syrian border. These provisions include food, clean water, blankets and tents for shelter. FEAL workers are unconditionally sharing the love of God with thousands of Muslims and those who have not yet heard the Gospel.

Refugees in Lebanon and Jordan, as well as those internally displaced inside Syria will continue to need help as peace in the region is distant. Partners International Canada is committed to the Middle East as we strive to help those trapped in transition on the front lines of the conflict. We are discipling the next generation of Christians that will help rebuild the Church in Syria.
Samaritan's Purse is distributing backpacks filled with essential health and hygiene items for women and children.

Life is hell for the millions of people who have been displaced in the Middle East by ongoing conflict. In Iraq alone, more than three million people have been displaced by the brutal attacks and threats of the militant jihadist group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Nearly one million people have fled to the autonomous region of Kurdistan in northern Iraq, which is still relatively safe from ISIS, and are living in camps and unfinished buildings in horrific conditions.


Thanks to donations from generous Canadians, Samaritan’s Purse is directly working in northern Iraq and alongside local church partners to provide food, water, shelter, medical care, educational assistance, and other essential non-food items to displaced people.

Since their beginning, ISIS has been systematically targeting, abducting, and sexually abusing thousands of women and children, specifically members of the Yazidi ethno-religious minority group. Both the Director of Yazidi Affairs and an Iraqi Member of Parliament contacted Samaritan’s Purse about displaced Yazidis in Kurdistan formerly held captive by ISIS who were in desperate need of psychological, health, educational, and livelihood support.
 
In May 2015, we began a $2.4 million project to operate a community center in Kurdistan for Yazidi families who have been torn apart and traumatized by ISIS. The community center is a safe place for families to develop healthy coping mechanisms and renew their sense of purpose, dignity, and hope.

In addition to our work in Iraq, Samaritan’s Purse is using Canadian donations to bring relief to displaced families in Syria and Egypt as well as to Syrian refugees in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and, more recently, in Eastern Europe.

In 2015 alone, Eastern Europe has received over 370,000 refugees from Syria and more than 330,000 refugees and migrants from the Middle East and Africa fleeing war, violence, and persecution in their home countries.

Samaritan’s Purse has deployed a multinational Disaster Assistance Response Team to meet the immediate needs of refugees as they make the desperate, long, and dangerous trek to northern Europe.
Our teams are working with trusted, local Christian partners to distribute food, water, and backpacks filled with essential health and hygiene items at key transit points. We are also working closely with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and local governments to provide water, sanitation, and hygiene support in camps throughout Greece and Croatia.

We do all this in Jesus’ Name.
Kids Alive provides residential care, education, and daycare to orphans and vulnerable children (OVCs) in Lebanon. We do so while prayerfully sowing the Gospel message and trusting in God’s harvest. We pray that children who have benefited from our care will return to their communities as ambassadors - witnesses of who Christ is and what He is doing in the world. To accomplish its mission, Kids Alive partners with local churches and Christian NGOs.

 
Like most organizations at work in the Middle East, the work of Kids Alive has been heavily affected by the unraveling of Syria, where the civil war is now entering its fifth year. According to the UN, 7.6 million people inside Syria have been displaced during the conflict. The war has pushed 3.9 million more — half of them children — to seek refuge in other countries. The majority of Syrian refugees end up in Lebanon. Due to the huge influx of people (1.2 million registered refugees, 500,000 unregistered), in October 2014, Government schools closed their doors to foreigners. Tens of thousands of Syrian children no longer have the option to receive formal education. Many have sought assistance from Kids Alive. Thus was born the Oasis, an education program for Syrian refugee children in Lebanon. Between 2014 and 2015 Kids Alive has converted workshops into three classrooms and a teacher’s room.


In the first half of 2015, Kids Alive served 60 children, teaching Math, English, Arabic and Bible. The students proved enthusiastic learners. Biblical teachings focused on love and forgiveness - introducing the children to a radically different worldview. Field Director Joseph Ghattas writes: “they were like sponges, soaking up the stories and songs that teach us about this amazing God of grace, redemption, and hope for a future. Our prayer is that once the conflict has ended, these families will return to their country carrying a message of healing and restoration”.

 In 2016, with additional grant funding Kids Alive will expand the current outreach to Syrian refugees by 33 %: providing education and nutritious meals to an additional 20 children.
 Proposed 2016 activities include:
  •  Hiring two more teachers (2016 school year) to teach 3rd and 4th grade equivalents
  •  Providing a nutritious lunch for 20 additional children
  •  Expanding classroom space to accommodate additional students
Richard McGowan--Chairperson
Executive Director, Emmanuel International Canada

Laura Solberg--Co Vice-Chair
Director—The Elevation Project, Greater Vancouver Youth Unlimited

Philip Tanner--Co Vice-Chair
Director, Global Programs, Christian Children’s Fund of Canada

Tracey DeGraaf
Senior Program Officer, Crossroads Christian Communications Inc.

Chris Bosch
Director, Program Strategy, World Vision Canada

Jessica Nkongolo
Director, Projects & Operations, Kids Alive International Canada

Hank DeJong
Executive Director, EduDeo Ministries
 
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