Jihad Haddad is pastor of True Vine Baptist Church in Zahle, Lebanon, where winterization materials and the Gospel are being delivered to Syrian refugees who fled from the Syrian conflict that began in 2011. Haddad answered the following questions about how True Vine is ministering to the refugees.
How is True Vine Baptist Church helping refugees?
True Vine Church in Zahle provides the Syrian Refugees in the Bekaa Valley with mattresses, blankets, stoves and fuel. The refugees are living in tents, garages, rooms and some houses. We support them with some of their needs. We have a warehouse for them to come and take their items.
How many refugees does the church work with?
There are more than half a million of Syrian refugees in our area. We are working with 1500 families. The total number of Syrian Refugees in Lebanon is about 2 million in a small country whose population is about 4 million.
What is the weather like in Zahle? What does the toughest part of winter look like?
The weather in Zahle is very cold. The toughest part is from January until March. We usually have snow and ice in these couple of months and it is very difficult for those living in tents especially in the nights when the temperature goes below zero.
Why is winterization necessary?
Because our area is very cold in winter-time. Children get sick, and the parents can't do anything to help. They even ask us to replace the food baskets we give them to buy some fuel to keep their children warm.
What winterization supplies are given to the refugees?
We give them blankets, mattresses, some stoves and fuel. The most needed and expensive item is the fuel.
Why has the church chosen to take on the ministry of winterizing Syrian refugees?
We chose this ministry for a couple of reasons. First, because we were displaced from our villages during the war for several years and we know what it means to be a refugee. Second, because we believe this is the best way to demonstrate our Christianity through word and deed.
How exactly are church members involved in the ministry?
The church members are deeply involved in this ministry. Everyone is playing an important role in that. We have some volunteers and some are employed to do it. We have a big team working with the refugees in various ministries: food packing, distributions, school teaching, Bible studies at houses, etc.
What would you say to encourage Texas Baptists to consider giving toward the Winterization Project?
Come and see what God is doing. It is a wide open door for ministry, which may not happen again.
How can Texas Baptists be praying for True Vine and for Lebanon?
Pray for our protection as a priority. We are in the frontlines of the battle. Pray for some continuous support as we feel the enthusiasm goes down with time.
The Winterization Project is part of Texas Baptists Partnerships program. To learn more about the project, visit texasbaptists.org/lebanon and to learn more about the Partnerships program, contact Steve Seaberry at steve.seaberry [at] texasbaptists.org.