COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Christian and Missionary Alliance (The Alliance) churches and personnel are responding with urgency to the deepening humanitarian crisis in the Middle East. Winter’s bitter temperatures have increased the misery of millions displaced by the ongoing Syrian civil war and Islamic State (ISIS) combatants’ brutal march across Iraq and Syria.
ISIS horrors have forced 1.4 million Iraqis to flee to a mountainous region that is now miserably cold. Most of the displaced are in two cities with thriving Alliance churches. Refugees are living in empty spaces, even in partially completed buildings that often lack windows or doors. Compassion and Mercy Associates (CAMA), the relief and development arm of The Alliance, supports the pastors of these churches through relief distributions. “Sometimes, up to nine people are crammed in a decrepit cinderblock building with a blanket hung as a curtain to keep the wind out,” reports Mike Sohm, CAMA’s president. “To support these displaced families through the winter, we have purchased small propane tanks and heaters. We just sent needed funds to one of the Alliance churches in this region to purchase blankets.”
Of the nearly 3 million who have fled to neighboring countries because of the ongoing Syrian civil war beginning in 2011, claiming nearly 200,000 lives, a majority are women and children. Since Syrian refugees began pouring into a small Arab town in a bordering country, an Alliance church there has provided food, household necessities, and emotional support to more than 4,600 families, averaging five to seven members each. CAMA personnel assist with relief logistics.
“A snowstorm is expected and when snow hits here, everything shuts down,” reported a CAMA worker from the town recently. “The grocery store shelves are empty. The wind has been howling all night. We are distributing heaters to the refugees from our warehouse and will run the distribution trucks all day long. Praise God for a committed team!”
The Alliance in the United States comprises more than 2,000 churches, mobilized to fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18–20) by living out the fullness of Jesus Christ in personal experience and building His Church worldwide. Seven hundred U.S.-based Alliance workers serve in 70 countries. Dan Samms is the pastor of Restoration Church in Amherst, which is part of the U.S. Alliance family of churches and helps support Alliance workers throughout the world.
“We love this community and are passionate about helping the hurting people of our city,” reports Pastor Samms. “But we are also part of a worldwide family of churches, some of which find themselves surrounded by immense human need. These churches, along with the hundreds of workers sent by the U.S. Alliance, are seeing unprecedented opportunities to offer tangible help and hope to people in extremely dire situations throughout the world. Our church is privileged to be a part of this work. Through our prayers and financial support, we are able to extend Christ’s care and compassion beyond our own community to the ends of the earth.”