Adib realized it was time to leave home, as 30,000 other Christians from his town in northern Syria had already done, and hoped he had not waited too long. The bus tickets to Damascus were in hand, and he had made arrangements for a driver to pick his family up at the station and transport them to Lebanon. On the way out the front door of their apartment, Adib and his wife, Durrah, and their two small children, stopped to ask God to keep them safe on the perilous journey before them.
Under normal circumstances, Adib knew the three-hour bus ride to Damascus to be less than comfortable. This time the trip proved to be treacherous, as the driver sped past cities where Syrian rebels engaged in turf battles against the army of Syria. All on the bus gazed in amazement and fear at shut-up houses, businesses, and battle-scarred buildings as the bus navigated the war-torn highway. Near dusk, the bus arrived on the outskirts of Damascus.
The station was surrounded by bombed-out buildings. Fighting would commence soon once night fell, so the bus driver hurried everyone off and sped away to safety. A feeling of panic hovered over Adib as he saw all of his fellow travelers meet their connections, while his driver was nowhere in sight.
Across the square, Adib spotted a taxi driver. His options, as Adib saw it, were to wait for his trusted driver to come and risk getting his family caught in a crossfire, or hire the unknown driver leaning on his taxi across the square, who might turn out to be a kidnapper. As the door of the taxi closed on his family, he and his wife once again prayed for God's protection.
Adib's faith journey had begun four years earlier through the influence of a local Christian pastor.
'He was asking me to return to church, but I was not ready,' Adib said. 'Then God spoke to me one day during a work break. I was trying to sleep, but someone's ringtone was playing a familiar hymn. I never did find the owner of that phone, but I felt God's voice was saying to me, "I have been waiting for you, but you are still searching the world for things to make you happy."'
Adib went to a small prayer meeting that night and never turned away from following Jesus. Durrah was reluctant to join him in his new walk, but soon she noticed the wonderful change in Adib and wanted to experience the same peace and joy he had found.
God answered their prayers. The taxi driver passed through many military checkpoints with ease and delivered them to the Lebanese border without incident.
After making it safely to Beirut, the next challenge was to find affordable housing, a church community, and a school for their daughter. For one week, they stayed in a cramped apartment with Adib's extended family while searching for housing, but without any results. By week's end, Adib's brother offered his apartment in a neighborhood of Beirut. Adib's salary as a driver paid $600 USD a month, the exact same amount he paid for rent and utilities. He knew he needed God to provide for everything else.
Another miracle happened. Adib's and Durrah's apartment was adjacent to the local Church of the Nazarene. Standing on their small balcony, they can almost reach out and touch the outer wall of the church sanctuary and can see the playground of the Nazarene school below. The church welcomed them with open arms into the family, helped them with furniture and food, and, best of all, enrolled their daughter in the Nazarene school free of charge.
Adib's and Durrah's story is similar to millions of other Syrian families who have fled for safety in Lebanon, Jordan, and the city of Damascus, Syria. Nine Nazarene churches are reaching out to more than 3,000 families with love and as much help as they are able to give. Syrian parents are most concerned about education. They fear that their children will go years without going to school while this conflict is resolved.
This year, four Nazarene schools in the Middle East will provide education for 300 Syrian children who would otherwise go without. Nazarene schools served Iraqi refugees during the last big conflict in the region. They now want to help Syrian children develop and thrive even after suffering such trauma and grief.
Nazarene schools provide an excellent education in a nurturing environment with spiritual teaching'something all children need and that makes a significant difference in a crisis.
'Most of the children who are coming to us are also behind in their development,' said the principal of the Nazarene School in Beirut. 'Without school their future is at great risk. This crisis is not their fault.'
Nazarene schools continue to have faith that God will provide for the students they have felt called to help.
All names have been changed.
Join with the church to support a Syrian child in distress, sponsor his or her education, and impact the child's future.
- $400 USD will enroll a Syrian child in a Nazarene school for an entire year.
- $100 USD will provide books and clothes for the school year.
- $45 USD will pay a child's school fees for one month.
You may donate online at ncm.org.
You may also contribute via check at the following addresses:
Global Treasury Services - Church of the Nazarene
P.O. Box 843116 | Kansas City, MO 64184-3116
Be sure to put 'ACM1269 - Middle East Nazarene Schools' in the memo area.
Make checks payable to Church of the Nazarene Canada and send them to:
Church of the Nazarene Canada
20 Regan Road, Unit 9 Brampton, Ontario L7A 1C3
Be sure to put ACM1269 ? Middle East Nazarene Schools in the memo area.