"What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works." - James 2:14-18
What is a "refugee?"
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), a refugee is someone who "owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country."
What is an "IDP?"
An IDP, or Internally Displaced Person, is essentially a refugee that never got out of their home country during the conflict. Many IDPs fleeing the violence of the Taliban in rural Afghanistan are forced to migrate towards more densely-populated areas such as the capital city of Kabul.
IDPs and refugees are generally treated very poorly by the communities in which they settle temporary camps. Due to this fact, the majority are not allowed to work and earn an income, which forces many families into the heartbreaking situation of forcing their children to work in the streets for mere pocket-change.
Because of our faith, we believe that all human beings are seen as equal in God's eyes (Acts 10:34-35). Each and every refugee, IDP, and street-working child is a human made in God's image. As the Church, it is our responsibility to act in love and hospitality to them in the name of Jesus Christ. This recent "refugee crisis" presents Christians with a magnificent opportunity to fulfill the Great Commission.
Seeing this opportunity to show God's love through physical provision and thus open the door to share the Gospel, IDES sent a shipment of over 285,000 GAP Program meals, all of which have been packaged and paid-for by our generous volunteers/donors (that's YOU!), to our partners in Kabul, Afghanistan to be distributed and shared with the IDP families they are ministering to.
"The winter months are exceptionally difficult for IDPs, street working children and the materially poor in Kabul. The weather is cold and there are even more limited opportunities for work. The food packages came at an extremely fortuitous and critical time for the people of Kabul," our partner said.
Upon receiving the shipment safely at their facility, our partner mission thoughtfully organized a trickle-down distribution process in order to maximize the sharing of the message that each meal was was prepared and prayed for specifically for them by believers in Jesus all over the U.S.
"The Elders provided 300 men and women to train at the facilities in Kabul. The trainers were told that the packages were assembled with love for the people of Afghanistan by families of believers in the U.S.," reported our partner, "and these trainers had been prayed for in advance of distribution. These 300 master trainers then assisted in the distribution to and training of 1,470 families over the course of 15 days. The average family size is 7 individuals so the food packages benefited approximately 10,290 individuals, 75% of whom are under the age of 12."
Praise God! But, the trickle-down only gets better. Many of these IDP families started sharing the IDES' GAP Program meals with their own neighbors. More points of contact = more relationships being built = more opportunities to share the Gospel of Jesus.
One specific example is Rahela, pictured at the top of this story. Rahela is a mother of four, and has been settled near Kabul after fleeing Taliban violence. Rahela has been attending literacy classes that our partner mission offers to IDP communities, while her children have been going to school. She and her family received some of the GAP Program meals to supplement their lack of nutritious food during the winter season.
"She told us that one box fed her family for a month and that one packet provided a meal for her 6-member family; she was even able to share with her friends and neighbors. Rahela told us that her family greatly enjoyed food and during our interview she asked us several times if we had more. She said the food made them feel strong and satisfied," our partner said.
These are the stories that your generosity creates. But, do you ever feel like you are still a million miles away from being able to truly help the families who are fleeing violence and forced to leave their homes somewhere in the world?
How can you help? Act in faith: by praying, by giving, and by volunteering.
Pray. Pray for Rahela and for her neighbors, that the provision of this food and their contact with our mission partners will draw them to Jesus Christ. Pray for all of those families who are fleeing violence in our world today. Pray for all of our missionaries who are reaching out in dangerous locations. Pray to our gracious and loving Father that He will move powerfully in these communities.
Give. Give generously to missions like IDES that are actively reaching out to refugee and IDP families. Give to your church when they have special offerings for those in dire need.
Volunteer. Volunteer at a GAP Food-Packing Event! Volunteer with other groups that are serving refugees and IDPs in some way. Our time and our energy are a blessing to be shared with others.
You are making a difference when you act in faith.
"Refugees." UNHCR News. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, n.d. Web. 29 Mar. 2016.