An indigenous Iranian ministry partnered with Intercede International has been helping refugees from Syria in southern Turkey. In Suruc, Turkey, Harvest Iran Ministries has been helping refugees who have fled from ISIS attacks in Kobani, northern Syria.
"There were about 200,000 refugees in Suruc and its surrounding area in southern Turkey, and by God's grace through working with the local authorities we were asked to run one of the several camps located around the town that at its peak at the end of January 2015 had 9,000 people," reports HIM leader Rev. Lazarus Yeghnazar.
The removal of ISIS forces by Kurdish fighters, supported by Coalition air strikes, by the end of January led to most of these refugees travelling back to the wreckage of the city of Kobani, where most of the buildings had been destroyed.
"The strong relationships that we had developed with the local Kurdish community led to HIM being invited by the city of Kobani's cross-party reconstruction committee to build a Christian community centre and a Christian school," reports Yeghnazar. In addition, HIM is in the process of building a bakery that will have a capacity to produce 20 tonnes of bread a day and is negotiating about developing a medical facility to support the local healthcare system.
HIM has a small church of 30 in Suruc, and knows of some 120 new believers who have returned to Kobani.
One young man, 19 year old T., had come to Christ in the Suruc camp and had served in HIM's kitchen. He was identified as having become a Christian and was executed by ISIS in Kobani.
"Many of our believers remain in hiding in the city, and one of our leaders was able to contact a group of girls June 25 to offer encouragement and comfort," Yeghnazar explains. "Their response was, 'Don't worry about us, even if they were to cut our heads off 10 times we would still say that Jesus is Lord!'
"Just in late June we received a report that a five-year-old boy, Mohammed, has been executed by ISIS in one of the outlying villages. He used to be in the camp singing songs about Jesus."
Each day in Suruc, the mission team cooks 13,000 meals, reports HIM. "Our team is now operating in a second kitchen. We are not able to get into Kobani ourselves, but we hand over the food in containers. We are trying to get medical support and we now desperately need funding to buy more food."
In what has continued to be a fragile situation, there is an immediate emergency need to provide humanitarian aid with food, water and medical aid for these people. There are many who are stranded at the border, unable to escape into Turkey, in fear of these indiscriminate attacks against civilians, quite apart from those left inside the city. "We are working to produce meals to support 2,000, and we need to get food into Kobani itself," explains Yeghnazar.