Syrian refugee mothers suffering in makeshift camps across Turkey have expressed a belief that God has "forgotten" them and only cares for Americans, a Christian missionary has revealed.
A Christian leader based in Turkey whose ministry provides aid in unofficial refugee camps shared with Christian Aid Mission that often, Syrian mothers bring their children to aid workers and ask missionaries to pray over them.
"They bring their children to us for prayer," he said. "We ask, 'What would you like us to pray for your child?' They say, 'May they grow up to live a better life, and be healthy.'"
"They are more concerned about their children and ask us for milk, baby food and blankets for their little ones," the director added, explaining that while they have little hope for their own lives, the mothers hope their children will be able to live a better life someday.
The ministry director shared the story of one Syrian woman, whose husband had died fighting for Syrian government forces battling Islamist insurgents. She and her three children, a teen boy and twin 4-year-olds, had gone to Istanbul, Turkey where they begged in order to survive.
The Muslim woman's 13-year-old son found work, but soon he began using drugs and abandoned the family. She then moved to a makeshift refugee camp in southern Turkey, hoping to create a better life for her small children. However, due to lack of provisions and medical care, the twins fell ill, forcing the woman to give one child up to another family.
"I stayed up all night thinking about which child I will give to this family," she told the indigenous ministry director. "I gave them the weakest of the twins out of necessity, and then I wondered which child this decision helped the most."
"ISIS has torn my family apart, messed up my job possibilities and ruined my health," the Muslim woman continued. "I've lost my country, but you have watched over my family. Now I have only one child. I've lost my husband and two children."
The woman said that God seemed to have forgotten Syrian refugees: "She said, 'He doesn't love us - He only loves Americans,'" the ministry director said. "She was obviously expressing lots of anger over the unfairness. After patiently letting her express these emotions, we shared that, 'God hasn't forgotten you, because He is using those in Europe and America to give you food and is sending it to you through me.'"
The woman knew that the team providing food and other critical items were Christians, and she grew silent, and quietly left with the provisions the team had given her: "I'm sure she thought of what we said as she tried to sleep that night," the ministry director said.
CAM notes that the number of Syrian refugees seeking asylum in the Middle East continues to grow as Europe has slowed the flow to its borders, and many refugees are mothers who have lost their husbands to the civil war of the past six years. Currently, the number of refugees in the Middle East from Syria is more than 4.9 million - 1 million-plus in Lebanon, 655,496 in Jordan, and 230,836 in Iraq.
On January 27, President Donald Trump issued an executive order that temporarily suspended the U.S. refugee resettlement program for 120 days; indefinitely suspended Syrian refugees, and barred visitors from seven Muslim-majority nations for 90 days. He also said he plans to give Christian refugees priority.
On Friday, U.S. District Judge James Robart in Seattle, Washington halted the temporary measure, and on Sunday, a U.S. appeals court denied a request from the Department of Justice to restore Trump's order.
Some Christian leaders, such as Pastor Robert Jeffress of First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, and Samaritan's Purse CEO Franklin Graham, have vocally supported Trump's attempts at a temporary ban. However, others have voiced concern over the move.
"We oppose any religions test that would place the suffering of one people over another," said Scott Arbeiter, president of World Relief, the humanitarian arm of the National Association of Evangelicals.
"President Trump rightly recognizes the incredible rise in persecution of Christians," David Curry , President of persecution watchdog Open Doors USA, said in a statement. "However, cherry-picking one religion over another only exacerbates the already severe worldwide trend of religious persecution.
"We encourage a need-based approach that treats all faiths equally and works toward the comprehensive strengthening of religious freedom around the world."