Humanitarian and Relief Efforts Begin

Mar 20, 2003 01:50 PM EST

JORDAN. – Since President Bush announced his ultimatum, and more so since the initiation of the war against Iraq, Wednesday night, refugees have flocked to neighboring Jordan in growing numbers. Christian humanitarian and relief ministries calls on volunteers and donations to assist in their effort.

International Aid worker Myles Fish says, "We're poised and we're ready to respond, if and when either the border opens up and we can get into Iraq, or if refugees start coming into Jordan, that we can minister to."

IA’s “Operation Iraqi Freedom” hopes to administer to the thousands of potential refugees. "They are actually employees in most cases, in the oil fields who are either from Egypt or the Sudan and if the war takes the worst case scenario it is predicted that as many as 300-thousand of these third country nationals will need to be leaving Iraq and trying to return to their home by traveling through the country of Jordan."

Other agencies move quickly to meet the refugees’ needs. "We don't know what all the needs are yet," said Wendy Norvelle, a worker from the International missions Board. "But we intend to meet needs as opportunities unfold. We also hope to conduct mobile ministries to people in Iraqi villages who are trying to stay with their homes.

Norvelle mentioned a greater need for donations and volunteers in the effort.

"But the needs have begun to emerge. We will certainly need medical people, but we also want other volunteers. We have tremendous opportunities to share a cup of cold water in the name of Christ.

"Now is the time for (Christians) to respond. We must not have a time lag. We must be able to respond when opportunities open."

Both she and Fish believe the conflict opens an opportunity to share God’s love.

"God loves the people of Iraq -- like he loves all peoples -- with all his heart, and we share that love," she said. "Our hearts are with the people of Iraq, the Arab majority as well as minorities like the Kurds.

"They have suffered for many years and the future will not be easy," Norvelle said. "We pray that God will use the uncertainty of a time like this to help them understand the certainty of his love for them.

"We ask [Christians] to join in fervent prayer for the peoples of Iraq, that this time of turmoil and uncertainty might cause them to seek God. We ask them to give generously to relief efforts that will help Iraqis rebuild their lives and country. We also call on them to give themselves for work in the region -- as living examples of God's love for the Iraqi people -- when those opportunities arise."

By Pauline J.