RHP Middle East and North Africa Round Table
2/10/2019 by Gordon Showell-Rogers
The size of the problems and the stories of suffering are overwhelming. It’s increasingly unlikely that Syrians and Iraqis will ever return home; very few will move to the West. The pressures on the infrastructures in Jordan and Lebanon (for example) are awful: as is the haemorrhaging of hope.
The parallels with the Palestinians in the region are striking. Children are highly likely to become grandparents before any lasting solution is found (if it ever is).
In the chaos and sadness, 20 amazing people from various countries, working in Egypt, Palestine, Jordan and Lebanon met to discuss their heart-concern for the forcibly displaced in MENA: and it was wonderful to have youth specialists contributing to the creativity and passion in the room.
Awful stories abound.
One Iraqi Christian woman shared the family’s pain and suffering since being driven from their home at one hour’s notice. It was deeply moving to hear her telling the story of her father who had faithfully served the nation and people of Iraq, as a university professor in Mosul, for 40 years. He struggled to absorb the shock, as he was forced to leave his work, his home, his belongings and so many memories, or be killed, simply because of his Christian faith and died of a heart attack, after months of ill-health after arriving in Jordan. His son-in-law testifies ‘I struggle that I can’t provide for my kids when they ask me for things’ and ‘I want a future for my children’
Light in the darkness
The churches and agencies represented are doing astonishing work, caring for children, teens, adults, old people, whole families, with dignity and respect, seeking to empower struggling people in various ways: from sewing lessons to art therapy, from simply listening to job creation, from advocacy to upskilling, from simply being a friend to business creation.
The strain on the carers is immense, as they move beyond immediate relief to long-term palliative care.
The mutual respect and consensus in the room were tangible, remarkable even in a region in which mutual suspicion is common-place.
There seemed to be consensus that the crisis is not going to end, but that it will last until Jesus returns. So there is a need to think strategically, to work together and to agree achievable milestones, so that hard-pressed labourers are able to persevere.
Deep concern was expressed about short-term missions not coordinating properly with locals.
Outcomes of the meeting
Before the end of the gathering, a small (executive) Team, representing Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Palestine had formed and agreed to start small steps towards developing an
RHP MENA, which would intentionally include others not at this meeting and which would seek to be a:
Immediate ‘take-aways’ mentioned
Youth For Christ (YFC) Lebanon said: ‘we are excited to discover Al-Hadaf (a brilliant Jordanian work with refugees) and we are keen to explore ways of working together for youth in the region’
Heart for Lebanon (working with refugees there) said: ‘we have known the Bible Society of Jordan for years but didn’t know about their planned new Trauma Centre. This will be a wonderful resource for us’.
Evangelical Council of Jordan said: ‘we will promote World Refugee Sunday, using RHP’s materials and the journalistic skills represented on the Council’s Board’
2nd October 2019