At one event in Lebanon, children were greeted by costumed characters. Then they heard a story as they watched a woman make candy canes. The children were told how the different colors of the candy can represented different aspects of the Gospel story. The children were then given their gifts.
There were no large Christmas for Refugees events this year with hundreds of children celebrating the birth of our Lord except in Syria and Nigeria. The events may have been toned down, but they were still about Jesus. Instead of games and song, children received special gifts.
Because of COVID-19, more Christmas events held this year in Lebanon for children than in the rest of the Middle East because the events will be smaller. In most instances children will walk through one at a time indoors, but because of local rules, some will be held outdoors.
Our Christmas events normally range between 100 and 700 kids in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, Nigeria, and Bethlehem. But this year the Covid-19 situation will force me to arrange for smaller and therefore many more events. This will bring up the cost… can we do it?
Our ministry partners in the Middle East have begun preparations for Christmas programs regardless of the uncertainty. Areas that were locked down during the early Covid-19 outbreak and then reopened are once again in lockdown. Will those areas be open in December?
The Christmas for Refugees program has become a tradition in several nations, showing the love of Christians here in America for the Christian children who have suffered so much under Islamic oppression. We must plan as if every event will be held in every country we serve, regardless of the situations that may exist now.
In Iraq our ministry partner is working on ways to better reach out to families that participate, and to provide them spiritual support. The same is true of our Diapers for Refugees program. We want to do more than just provide a service; we want to help families get connected to a local church and develop a lasting relationship with the Lord.
Although nationwide demonstrations shut down streets in Lebanon, every event was still able to be held. The Christmas events were a blessing to the children who attended and a blessing for Nancy and me to participate in.
William J. Murray reports from Qaraqosh, Iraq… an area that was destroyed by the Islamic State because of the Christian presence in the town. Watch this video to see how our Christmas for Refugees events help encourage Christians in areas like this!
Bill and Nancy Murray report from Lebanon to share an update for the 2019 Christmas programs that are underway!