The Syrian crisis has dragged hundreds of thousands of children away from their homes and communities, forcing them to live in places where they face harsh living conditions, are deprived of education opportunities, and do not feel welcomed. In this challenging context, our partner churches are answering their calling to welcome vulnerable children and their families and care for them, giving them a chance at a more hopeful future.
“Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.” As we read this verse, we cannot help but wonder: “what does it mean to welcome little children?”
When we talk about welcoming children, it is not about just making room for them to be present, it is about making them feel they are valued and wanted here with us. We can clearly see that in the churches we are exposed to through MERATH: churches that are doing all they can to welcome into their midst children who no one else seems to welcome. Not only have they opened their doors to vulnerable and refugee children and their families, but they have also opened their hearts to them. One of our partners once told me “The people I serve are not just numbers to me. I consider them to be like my family.”
Whether our partners are providing families with food and other daily necessities, or out-of-school children with education and psychosocial support, they are not only answering material needs but a deeper longing to feel listened to, understood, and cared for: a longing to feel welcomed. A refugee mother who has four children in one of our partner learning centers told us: “when we enter the center, we feel like human beings again!”. Another mother said: “I see the love of God in the church team. Through them we benefit from many things, beyond just food.”
Because our partners are churches and faith communities, they welcome those children and their families not in their own names, but in Jesus’ Name. And we believe that each time they have done so, they have welcomed God himself. We pray that in everything we do, to God be all the glory, forever and ever!