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Update from Upper Egypt
Because of friends like you, Focus on the Family is able to come alongside the families of martyrs executed by ISIS. Construction in Samalout, Egypt, of homes for these families is well underway, and it is a project that has impacted an entire community (see pictures in the Photos section below). The construction contractor is hiring local laborers to help build the homes, providing new jobs. The local Coptic Bishop has offered two buildings that will be turned into Vocational Training Centers, creating new potential. Families from around Samalout are bringing the construction crews meals while they work. Teams from Focus on the Family Egypt regularly make the 2 hour trip to the community to meet with the families and grieve alongside them. What began as a horrific tragedy has brought the whole community together.
The houses are not extravagant, by any definition. But they are safe, they provide shelter, and they are giving members of a marginalized community a place to call home. More than that, they are a physical demonstration of unity within the worldwide body of Christ. This is all possible because you chose be a part of Focus on the Family’s Global Outreach.
The Focus Egypt team is committed to long-term ministry in the area, and construction will continue for many more months. The job training center will give new opportunities for families to earn a livelihood. And the final phase of the construction will include a Memorial Community Center in honor of the men who took such a brave stand. Your willingness to contribute so generously to our efforts in Egypt is deeply appreciated. The Lord is using this initiative powerfully as we strive to “visit orphans and widows in their affliction” (James 1:27)
Use the Donate Now button above to continue to support this outreach.
The news of the 20 Egyptian men and their Ghanaian coworker who were murdered by ISIS in Libya reverberated around the world. All of the Egyptian men were members of the Coptic Christian church, so the nation, and especially members of the Coptic faith, was deeply shaken by the brutal murders. A team from Focus on the Family Egypt visited the communities in Upper Egypt where 20 of the martyrs came from. They spent two days in the villages, going from door to door to meet the friends and families of these men, and were completely unprepared to see the Bible come alive through the faith of these people.
All of these young Christians were in their early to mid-20s, and they went to Libya in search of work to help feed their families living under the poverty line in Egypt. They literally had nothing, except for the very thing they died for because they would not let it go — their faith in Christ. Their families echoed that faith. They did not curse ISIS. They did not ask for pity. They did not ask for supplies or money. When the team asked several of the families what needs they had that Focus might be able to help with, they said, “We have no physical needs. Please just pray that our faith remains strong.” These are people who have nothing, including what most people would call a proper home, and not one of them expressed a single need other than maintaining a strong faith. Another elderly lady, who is caring for her grandchildren because her son was one of the 20 killed, was asked how they would survive without the breadwinner. She confidently said, “Our God has always provided for our every need, and He will continue to provide.”
The families and friends of the 20 men all rejoiced that the men made the choice they did. They prayed that their children would forgive ISIS. And they said they would all hope to make the same choice, if faced with the same threat. It was a stirring challenge to the team from Focus on the Family Middle East, and to Christians everywhere.
The Focus Egypt team works with the central Coptic church in the area, and is providing counseling and distributing children’s Bibles. This ministry was possible because of their existing partnership with the Coptic church. The local churches and the Focus office are partnering to continue their outreach and support to the families of these 20 men. Focus on the Family’s Global Partnership is meeting people at their point of need, with biblical counsel and trusted resources. The families’ physical need for housing gave Focus on the Family the chance to stand with the Egypt office, and meet the needs of these families in a tangible way. Thank you for choosing to be a part of what Focus on the Family is doing around the world.
Relief for Displaced Families in Iraq and Jordan
Focus on the Family is reaching out to families in the Middle East who have lost everything. These people were forced out of their homes by ISIS and left everything behind. They are crowded into parking garages and tents set up in schoolyards. They have no homes, no jobs, no schools to go to, and they feel like the world has forgotten about them. We are working on meeting material needs such as food, shelter, and blankets, and also working with local partners in the area doing follow up visits that reassure these people that their lives matter and that God loves them.
In Amman, Jordan, Sami Yacoub, the Middle East Regional Director for Focus on the Family, attended a food distribution for refugees at a local church. The church had prepared 100 parcels, but that morning 174 families pressed into the church. There was nothing for the extra 74 families to eat. Focus on the Family’s contribution to the relief effort was able to cover the cost of food pacts for the extra 74 families that the church would have had to turn away. The pastor had tears in his eyes as he explained to Sami that God’s timing in this instance could not have been more perfect!
In addition to that initial visit, Focus is providing:
- Six months’ worth of food for 180 families in Amman, Jordan
- 1,000 blankets for a church in Amman to distribute
- Housing for 72 families in Erbil, Iraq, for six months
- Tents and heaters for another 40 families in Erbil
- 1,000 blankets to be distributed as necessary in Erbil
- A homeschooling pilot project that will help 70 displaced children keep up with their education
Focus on the Family has made a commitment to help these families recover from the terrible things they have been through. Arrangements have been made to provide food for refugees in Amman, Jordan for six months and for housing in Erbil, Iraq for six months. In addition, our church partner in Amman is starting English as a Second Language (ESL) classes for refugee families and a children’s reading time. They are also conducting separate weekly meetings for women, teen girls and teen boys.
Your support is reaching families in desperate circumstances and offering them hope, dignity, and a sense of stability. These families need more than just quick handouts. They have a heartbreaking past as well as an uncertain future, but Focus on the Family is making sure they will not have to face that future alone. Please use the Donate Now button on this page to support our global outreach.
One year after the initial trip into Amman, Jordan, Focus on the Family is still engaged with local churches and meeting the needs of refugees. One church in the city has formed a school for Iraqi refugee children who cannot afford the Jordanian school fees. Focus on the Family’s support outfitted the school with equipment it needed to be able to operate officially. The school outreach is helping 60 children continue their education and restoring a sense of normalcy and routine for weary families.
In another refugee community in Amman, Focus on the Family is providing 150 mattresses and 150 wool blankets, along with infant formula for newborns among the Iraqi families. Life goes on for these families that were forced from their homes by ISIS, and Focus on the Family is meeting their basic needs. Yet another of our partner churches built temporary housing units in their building, but needed help furnishing them. By covering the cost of basic furniture, Focus on the Family equipped this church to begin a long-term refugee care program.
Focus is also reaching out to 600 families with a special Christmas meal. This very personal touch is designed to communicate to refugees that they are still human, and that they are more than just numbers waiting to be processed.
Focus on the Family continues to come alongside local churches and help them provide meaningful aid to refugees in a desperate situation. We could not do this without your support. Thank you for choosing to be a part of sharing Christ’s love with these Iraqi refugees.
Focus on the Family’s outreach in the Middle East continued with Christmas gifts for refugee families. Nearly 80 families crowded into the church and received and special food packages, such as lamb, chicken and chocolate bars. The special Christmas Eve distribution was arranged by Focus on the Family Middle East to help the refugees feel more human. A total of about 500 pounds of lamb and 400 pounds of chicken were handed out to help the refugee families celebrate Christmas.
The Christmas outreach resonated within the community as well. When the church went to purchase supplies, the market sold the meat at wholesale prices and then butchered all of it for free. The compassion fueling this relief initiative has struck such a chord that Muslim businessmen are helping the evangelical Christian church save costs on of supplies! The savings allowed the church workers to extend the outreach to more families, and was a huge source of encouragement.
Focus on the Family Middle East has demonstrated to the refugees in Amman that they care for them. And they care about their humanity, about their dignity, not simply meeting basic necessities. And this example is creating a ripple effect that is spreading through the community.
Displaced or Refugees?
Why do we talk about displaced families and refugees? The difference is a technicality in the way the United Nations classifies migrant populations. Only groups that have crossed an international border are designated as refugees. Groups that have fled their homes to a different part of the same country, are classified as “internally displaced persons,” “IDPs,” or simply “displaced.”
Why the difference?
Both populations are in a constant state of transition. Both populations are traumatized. Both are usually outsiders, even within their own borders. Neither are able able to return home. So what is the purpose behind the different classifications? The most important reason for the distinction is related to what comes next. Refugees need assistance with immigration, through visas, refugee, or asylum, all of which they have to wait for from foreign governments. Internally Displaced Persons, however, are still legal residents of their home country. And while immigration to another country may be the ultimate goal for some of them, IDPs can still legally work, own property, and remain citizens where they are.
Who is Focus on the Family helping?
Both! In Amman, Jordan, Focus is helping refugees from Syria and Iraq. In Erbil, Iraq, the affected population has arrived there from Mosul and other parts of the country, and as such are classified as displaced. Focus on the Family is working through local partnerships to serve displaced and refugee families, because both groups are in urgent need.
An old house ready to be rebuilt.
Concrete base for a house. Focus Egypt and the Egyptian Coptic Church are also working to provide a new well for clean drinking water and a vocational education center.
The construction is employing workers from the village, which provides a source of income and sense of pride from being a part of the project.
A new house under construction for one of the families.
A second story in process.
These homes are very simple, yet provide a safe shelter for families that didn’t have it.
Adding a ceiling to the home where one martyr’s father lives.
The wife and son of one of the men killed on the beach in Libya, in the home being built for them.
Focus Egypt is in contact with the families of the martyrs every month, offering counseling and companionship.