Churches and faith-based organizations in Canada are stepping up to help people caught in the crossfire of the ongoing crisis in syria. The conflict has left more
than 9 million people displaced over the past three years, with
2. 5 million fleeing to neighbouring countries.
With their homes destroyed, family members killed and
livelihoods disrupted, syrians are facing enormous challenges daily just to find food and shelter. The Church in Canada
is doing its part to help, according to Jim Cornelius, executive director of the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, which has
committed nearly $12 million to provide syrians with food
rations or food vouchers.
“A large part of the donations that Canadians have been
making in response to the syrian crisis has been directed
through Canadian churches and church-related agencies,”
he says. “The Canadian Church has been at the forefront of
responding to this crisis.” The Foodgrains Bank has received
over $740,000 in donations from individuals, congregations
and organizations to provide humanitarian assistance.
st. Paul’s Bloor street in Toronto donated more than
$40,000 to the Foodgrains Bank through its annual Advent
Ask last Christmas, well beyond the campaign goal of
$25,000. Barry Parker, rector, explains that the Advent Ask
is an annual spiritual discipline the Anglican congregation
embraces, but this year people were particularly moved
by the syrian crisis. “Christian communities in syria have
been destroyed. They are powerless and we want to help
That kind of thinking is also behind samaritan’s Purse
Canada’s work with a network of pastors and churches inside
syria distributing food, medicine, blankets and clothing to
several hundred families. The organization is also providing
relief to refugees in Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey.
“We are trying to direct our funds to be most effective for
the Church inside syria for those people who haven’t left. The
Church will be weakened by the crisis. hopefully peace will
come, and we want to help rebuild the Church,” says Bruce
Piercey, regional director for eurasia in samaritan’s Purse
Canada’s projects department.
Other Christian organizations are helping syrians and
refugees with services that go beyond the essentials.
World vision provides food, sanitary supplies, household
materials and other nonfood necessities to approximately
209,000 people inside and outside syria.
“As a child-focused charity World vision has launched
child protection initiatives, and in Lebanon and Jordan we
have also opened our Child-Friendly spaces to give children
a chance to play and learn in a safe, structured environment,” says Bob neufeld, manager, emergency response
and corporate communications (public affairs). In Lebanon
and Jordan World vision is also providing refugees with rental
supplements and cash vouchers for food.
Meanwhile, Intercede International based in Fort erie,
Ont., has teamed up with Manara Outreach Ministries in
Amman, Jordan, where almost one-sixth of the population is
made up of syrian refugees.
In addition to providing basic necessities, Manara provides counselling services. “Many people are traumatized.
Christians can bring them new hope and new perspectives,”
says James eagles, president of Intercede International. “We
need to help other people when they are in dire straits.”
“It is not possible for Christians to hear of this suffering
and do nothing,” Cornelius echoes. “Our scriptures and the
commands of Jesus compel us to act, to concretely express
love, concern and solidarity for the person who has been
displaced and is in need of help.” FT –Renée Joette Friesen
Abdo Khalil, who worked as a driver in Syria, now
lives with his children and grandchildren inside
their two-bedroom apartment in Zahlé, Lebanon,
near the Syrian border.
Canadian Churches Respond to Syrian Crisis