"And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'" Matthew 25:40
A Christian aid group in Greece is working to help thousands of Syrian refugees afflicted with various disabilities who have fled a deadly civil war in their homeland.
Over 3.9 million Syrians have been forced to seek refuge in Greece, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and other countries due to the four-year old conflict raging within the country and the growing threat of terrorism. According to figures published by the Greek police, 31,158 Syrian refugees entered Greece in 2014, compared to 8,517 in 2013--and the number is only rising. In response, Christian Aid Mission is working to meet the needs of these refugees, specifically focusing on those who are disabled.
"[The Christians are] helping the refugees that come through Greece on their way to Europe," explained Steve VanValkenburg of Christian Aid Mission. "Often, there are special cases, and unfortunately, nobody really deals with people who fall through the cracks."
According to a 2014 HelpAge International and Handicap International study, 30% of the refugees in Jordan and Lebanon have specific needs, and 77% of the elderly suffer from some sort of disability or chronic disease.
Sadly, many of the refugees who do not have physical handicaps are disabled emotionally because of the violence and other horrific scenes they have witnessed.
"The broader story with these refugees is that they don't all fit the same mold. They're not all perfectly physically able. Fortunately, there are Christians scattered throughout the world who are taking care of these types of people," explained VanValkenburg.
"Christians reach out in the name of Christ and they listen to [refugees]; they pray with them," he added. "Just because they are maybe crippled doesn't mean that they should be discarded or not taken care of."
Along with prayer, Christians are distributing food, helping with housing, and funding more advanced medical procedures to help those who are often overlooked due to the gravity of the refugee situation. The Christ-like compassion of the aid workers, VanValkenburg explained, has brought many Muslim refugees to faith.
"These people really have no place to go, and they really don't have any options," the aid worker said. "They don't have any resources, and they don't have the regular medical facilities available that people within a more settled situation would have. So, it very much reaches their hearts when they see that there are people reaching out to them and helping them and giving them specific attention to take care of their needs. That draws them into heart-to-heart relationship with Christians who can then share the Gospel with them."
Meanwhile, Greece's government on Wednesday appealed to the European Union on for help handling undocumented migrants after the number of landing on its shores more than tripled in the first three months of the year.
"It's a problem we can't solve by ourselves," State Minister Alekos Flabouraris told Greek TV. "Europe is obliged, if it wants to show that it is a European union ... to offer a solution."