VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 2/19/14)—After nearly three years of civil war inside Syria, the number of civilian casualties, internally displaced people and refugees continues to grow in astounding numbers. In response to the growing Syrian crisis, American Baptist International Ministries (IM) sent a $50,000 One Great Hour of Sharing (OGHS) emergency relief grant to ecumenical partner, International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC), in December 2013.
Millions of Syrians have been forced from their homes and are without even the basics of human existence. To date, the United Nations Commission for Refugees has registered 2.3 million Syrian refugees in neighboring countries, Lebanon, Jordon, Iraq, Turkey and Egypt. According to a BBC estimate, 9.3 million people inside Syria, or over 40% of the population, are displaced and in need of relief support.\
IOCC has implemented a tremendous relief program in Syria. Since July 2012, it has provided relief and assistance totaling over $48 million to 900,000 Syrians.
The American Baptist OGHS funds are being used to reduce the vulnerability of displaced and war-affected Syrians by providing continuity in education for children and rent assistance for families. The funds complement existing activities already underway by IOCC. Fifty children are receiving tuition and fees subsidies or remedial help, and 50 displaced families are receiving assistance with rent payments. “Employment among displaced people is low and families find it difficult to maintain their children’s education,” summarized IOCC Regional Director, Sam Dunlap. IOCC provides tuition support and remedial classes for children so they can resume their studies and maintain their grade levels. Primary school fees for one year or remedial help for a three-month program for one child each cost $350.
Providing rent assistance helps to alleviate some of the economic pressure that many displaced families face. It allows them to focus their resources on other pressing needs. Rent assistance averages $200/month per family.
“It’s a privilege to be able to provide a grant of this significance to the tragic situation that continues to unfold within Syria,” shares IM Executive Director Reid Trulson. “Because of the generosity of American Baptists to the annual OGHS offering, we are able to bring relief to victims of not only natural disasters like hurricanes and earthquakes, but also to those who suffer due to ongoing civil conflict that has uprooted their lives and livelihoods. Through OGHS, American Baptists are walking alongside of our Syrian brothers and sisters during these days of severe hardship and heartbreak.”
Churches are being asked to keep the refugees and displaced families in prayer. Financial relief aid is needed. Tax-deductible contributions can be made through your church. Write on the memo line: “OGHS – Syria Relief.” Contributions can be made online here.
One Great Hour of Sharing is administered by the World Relief Committee of the Board of General Ministries of American Baptist Churches USA. The Committee facilitates American Baptist emergency relief, disaster rehabilitation, refugee work, and development assistance by establishing policy guidelines and overseeing distribution of the annual One Great Hour of Sharing offering received by churches. Learn more: http://www.abc-oghs.org/
American Baptist Churches USA is one of the most diverse Christian denominations today, with over 5,200 local congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission around the world.