Christian workers in southern Turkey are working tirelessly to help children traumatized by the horrors perpetrated by the Islamic State group despite facing danger themselves.
Over two million refugees have flooded into Turkey, running from civil war in nearby Syria and Iraq, and that number is projected to reach three million by the year's end, according to the UNHCR. A Turkish director of an indigenous ministry told Christian Aid Mission that most of the refugees in the area camps are women and children, as about a quarter of the mothers have lost their husbands to war or jihadist atrocities.
"There's one boy who saw his parents killed in front of him," said the Turkish director. "His grandma says he was a happy child until that night. Now he wakes up every night screaming. Day by day, he stopped talking. Now he only screams."
He revealed he was unable to sleep for a week after seeing two refugee children asleep with flies swarming in their mouths, eyes, ears and noses. Their father had disappeared after going to help jihadists in Syria, and their mother felt helpless against the area's summer multitude of flies.
"I just sat down, and I said, 'Lord, why are you showing this to me?'" he said. "He showed it to me so that I would help them out."
"My heart is bleeding after I see children left disabled because they cannot go to a hospital," he said. "One baby passed away from not having a blood transfusion. I cannot sleep some nights."
The ministry arrives at the crowded camps with 200 boxes of food, clothing and water for people living in several hundred tents, and the refugees beg for provisions. The ministry shared how every tent as at least one disabled person in it due to inter-marriage with close cousins, mutilation by terrorists or being born in the rough conditions of a refugee tent. Sadly, the majority of the refugee needs far outstrip the ministry's resources.
"Imagine your children dying in front of you because you cannot feed them or take them to the hospital," the director said. "These people cannot bring bread to feed them. We're living in a hell when we see these people and cannot help them."
In addition to physically assisting refugees, the ministry works to share the Gospel. After providing aid one week, they will ask if they can include Bibles in the next week's box of aid. The answer is always, "Yes."
Leading refugees in the prayer, "With all my heart and soul, I receive Christ as Lord and Savior," the workers have seen 112 people put their faith in Jesus, with 20 baptized. Because of the dangers present in the camps, baptized refugees relocate to three "safe houses" for discipleship, while the others remain secret Christians in the tents.
"We're risking our lives to share the gospel with them, but we don't want to risk their lives," he added. "Once they receive Jesus Christ, they are in danger of the radicals in the camp. So in one safe house we have 12 family members who received Jesus, but they're living in one room."
Sharing the Gospel does not come without risk: aid workers say they are confident that if jihadists in camps for refugees found out they were talking about Jesus in the tents, they would kill them.
"If certain people saw us sharing the gospel, they would tell the radicals," the director said. "Even the [Turkish] government would stop us - they would be tracking us, ban us from everything, charge us with false crimes, put us in prison."
Currently, the ministry is seeking assistance to purchase mosquito nets that would wall out the flies and mosquitoes at about $30 each for a large one and $5 for a small one. To learn how you can help, visit the Christian Aid Mission website.