Your help for Christians in the Middle East
Across the Middle East – in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Egypt and the Holy Land – you are helping Christians to stay and to sustain the Faith in their ancient homelands. Here are some examples of the projects you are supporting.
Emergency help for those fleeing conflict and violence
Amid the unrest in the Middle East, many thousands of Christians have been forced to flee their homes – most recently, Syrian Christians fleeing from the civil war in Homs, Aleppo and Damascus. You have helped us reach out to beleaguered Christians in Syria with aid totalling £360,000 to provide food, medicine and shelter:
|Food, blankets and medicine for Syrian refugees in Syria, Jordan and Lebanon, who have fled the fighting and are now struggling in below-freezing temperatures. Read more|
|Medical aid at St Louis Catholic Hospital in Aleppo for patients injured after being caught up in the fighting.|
|Emergency supplies of food, medicine and baby milk for 12,000 people stranded in a village near the Lebanese border. Read more|
|A three-month supply of food for families in Aleppo.|
|Vital medical supplies for families in the city of Aleppo – enough to last three months.|
|Essential food for displaced families in Damascus; Mass stipends for 12 priests ministering to the faithful in the city.|
|Emergency aid for families trapped in the old city of Homs.|
|Food and shelter for more than 1,500 families who were forced to flee fighting in Homs, taking shelter in the surrounding towns and villages. Read more|
|Pastoral projects in support of the Church's mission.|
Among the Christians fleeing Syria's conflict are many Iraqi Christians who had already left their homeland for safer places. Until the outbreak of the conflict in Syria, many had been cared for by the Church in Aleppo, through a programme overseen by Bishop Antoine Audo. Others are in Lebanon – itself being destabilised by the fighting over the border.
There, Sister Hanan Youssef of the Good Shepherd Sisters runs a small clinic in a quiet suburb of Beirut. The Sisters work round the clock, providing food, baby milk, inoculations and other medicines. "They are in extreme need!" says Sister Hanan of the refugees. None of this work would be possible without your generosity.
Building bridges between faiths
Christians in the Middle East play a hugely important as bridge-builders with other faiths – and you are helping us comtinue to support dialogue projects.
Melkite Archbishop Elie Haddad of Saida (Sidon) in Lebanon told us: "Building bridges with other faiths is so important. We meet once a monthe with the other bishops and mullahs."
And his Maronite counterpart, BIshop Elias Nassar added: "The other communities like to deal with Christians. Yesterday, the bishops of Saida met with two muftis, and the Sunni mufti said we must continue with our projects for dialogue.
"We cannot answer all the needs of the world, but a little help helps us continue."
Supporting Christian familes in the Holy Land by buying their olive wood gifts
Since 2005, Aid to the Church in Need has been delighted to offer olive wood devotional items from the Holy Land in our seasonal gift brochures and in our online shop. By buying these gifs, you have offered them a much-needed lifeline to help them be able to make a living and stay in their homelands.
“Being a Christian in the Holy Land, especially in Bethlehem… is one of the biggest responsibilities in my life," Victor Tabash (pictured), says. "I have to protect and give priority to this land.”
Victor and his family run a shop in Bethlehem, as well as coordinating other families to manufacture our Holy Land gifts from olive wood.
Their sense of duty to remain as Christians in the birthplace of Christ is steadfast. Victor tells us: “It is an honour being someone from Bethlehem – celebrating Christmas where Jesus was born, dedicating ourselves for that day, teaching our children the importance of our city. “
But the situation is very difficult for Christians there, and without your help many could have emigrated, says Victor. “Thank you from our hearts for helping us work and stay in our lands – the most precious and important place in the world.”
Building and repairing churches and parish centres
In the Lebanese village of Jdeideh-Fakiha, you are helping complete work on St Anthony's church, which will serve the Christian majority in this very poor area – both as the parish church and as a centre for major communal events.
In Asnoun in northwest Lebanon, meanwhile, the Maronite Catholic Church is building a multi-purpose parish centre to serve the small community here. The construction work has been completed thanks to two generous private donations, and now you are helping to complete the interior, together with all the doors and windows. And the Maronite Catholic community in Qotrâné, near the border with Israel, also has a new parish hall, where the Liturgy is celebrated, as well as parish events taking place – especially for children and young faithful.
In Israel, Archbishop Sayah of Haifa is hoping that the construction of a pastoral centre in the small town of Isfya, on Mount Carmel, will help Christians to live their faith together; encouraging them to stay in the Holy Land and not emigrate. Your generosity is helping young people in this parish to be strengthened in their Christian identity.
And in Iraq, churches such as St Paul's in Mosul are being renovated with the funds you have provided – something which is key to helping parish life flourish, preserving the Faith amid all the challenges and threats.
Mass stipends for priests
Your Mass offerings are a vital lifeline to poor priests ministering to their faithful in very difficult circumstances of war, persecution and poverty. You are helping them to reach out to the most needy in their community. Please be assured of the prayers of both the priest and the faithful where your Masses are said – and also remember them in your prayers. Why not pray our Prayer for Christians in the Middle East, or say the Rosary?
Helping train the priests of tomorrow
Despite the severe problems facing the Church in the Middle East, vocations are booming. Lebanon plays a key role in the training of future priests, with seminarians coming from neighbouring countries to train.
At the Maronite seimnary in Ghazir-Kesserwan, near Beirut, 77 young men are trying their vocation, including 23-year-old Ferez. "I want to serve the people of God and the Church of God," he says. "Becoming a priest is the best way I can do that."
You are also helping to support seminarians in Egypt and Iraq.
Supporting Sisters in their ministry
Sisters play a vital role in the life of the Church in the Middle East, from providing health care and education to dedicating their lives to prayerful service of God.
Sister Elizabeth and the Daughters of Saint Anne open their clinic in Assiut, Upper Egypt to 200 people a day who walk up to 20 miles to get there. The Sisters also provide Christian education to the children there.
And in Alexandria, also in Egypt, Sister Myriam and Sister Ekhlas have answered God's call to a life of prayer and devotion at Our Lady of the Annunciation monastery. You are helping us to make a commitment to suport them and other Sisters in their vocations.