Al-Zatari refugee camp in northern Jordanian desert. Photo via assistnews.net
Jordanian Based Relief Agency Needs assistance
There's never a quiet moment for the Amman, Jordan- based Manara Ministries, an evangelical relief and development agency, reports Jeremy Reynalds, Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service.
In an e-mail to the ASSIST News Service, Manara President Isam Ghattas related some of the most significant recent events.
At the beginning of the Syrian revolution, in March 2010, Manara began monitoring the condition of Christians in Syria and ministering to the refugees fleeing to Jordan. As the numbers increased, Manara was contacted by international ministries and nongovernment organizations who wanted to help but were unable to manage the logistics.
The e-mail said Manara also helped to sensitize visiting Christian teams who, while keen to assist, were unaware of the intricacies of Jordanian society regarding proselytizing, gender issues, and legal conditions.
Manara said the agency worked and continue to work with these groups to reach suffering Christians and sisters with humanitarian and financial relief in the worst-hit cities inside Syria; Aleppo, Homs and Damascus.
According to Manara, the agency also moved resources into Jordanian border towns-to Ramtha, Irbid, and finally Mafraq, where al-Zatari, the first refugee camp, was later established and quickly overflowed with tens of thousands of refugees.
At the same time, Manara said, the agency struggled to feed, clothe, and shelter countless refugees who continued south into Amman and Zarqa.
In addition, through contacts in the border towns, Manara staff gathered vital intelligence they shared with UNHCR officials and ad hoc groups that helped them coordinate their efforts.
The e-mail from Manara said its focus continues to be on the most vulnerable, many of whom are threatened by need into slave labor and prostitution.
The Manara e-mail said, “We do whatever we can, wherever we are. In Zarqa, we refurbished a donated unfinished building to provide shelter for seven families of women and children. In another town, we saved a man's gangrenous leg.”
However, the e-mail said, there is something even more important than humanitarian aid. “We share God's love and mercy with these shattered families, listening to their stories and showing them compassion and solidarity and weeping with them as they describe their hardships and the dangers they faced as they fled their demolished homes and ruined cities and villages.”
Manara said the agency also works with members of Islamic associations. They “experience for the first time the difference between aid that comes out of a heart changed by Jesus Christ and one that merely fulfills a contractual or religious obligation. They are amazed that evangelical churches are in the vanguard of helping Muslims, as well as Christians.”
With the onset of cold weather, Manara said the agency is trying to protect families against the deadly cold of the Jordanian desert by distributing quilts and winter clothes.
Manara said what happens next is anyone’s guess. “The UNHCR expects the Syrian refugee population to swell to more than one million by June. And international resources are stretched to the breaking point, as are those of the Jordanian government.”
Manara said families need sturdy tents to keep out the heat, cold and sandstorms. They also need prefab toilet cabins, as women and children find it difficult and embarrassing to travel to the public toilets at night. Also in demand is nutritious dry food, diapers and sanitary kits.
Manara has been offered a container filled with $300,000 worth of urgently-needed hospital equipment.
The e-mail continued, “But we are unable to cover the $7,000 it will cost to ship it here. So it sits empty while families die. We have been offered containers filled with blankets and shoes and other essential supplies. Each costs $7,000 to ship but would provide hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of humanitarian aid. Will you help us get these supplies to the refugees?”
Manara said the agency also needs money to carry to needy Christians in Aleppo in northern Syria, a strategic city where the fighting has been particularly brutal and conditions especially severe. Funds are also needed to buy local food and medical supplies that are too costly to ship from the West.
Manara commented in the e-mail, “God neither made this war nor sent it. It is entirely the result of the violence, hatred, and lawlessness in mens' hearts. Yet He is bringing good out of it, using His people to reach tens of thousands of refugees. We must always remember that you and I have been blessed to be a blessing.”
Manara said God is also giving the agency opportunities to reach Syrian children and orphans.
The e-mail continued, “Their souls are wounded and scarred, but their hearts are open and tender. We need money to buy Bible story books to help them make sense of the terror they have fled. To show them that the Isa of the Qur'an is not the Jesus of the Bible and to tell them how much this Jesus loves them and is able to heal them, their families, and their country.”
Manara asked that people remember the agency in their year-end giving plans.