Serving Refugees in the Middle East
In the last year, we’ve received incredible stories of service and life transformation from our local church partners in the Middle East. Pastor Mohammad leads a local church in Tyre, Lebanon and also serves as the Executive Director of GO Middle East-North Africa. Recently, the radio program, Encounter, featured a conversation with Pastor Mohammad and GO Project President, Trace Thurlby.
Listen to Pastor Mohammad’s Story:
“Even three years ago, we had no vision on how to serve in the Middle East. We didn’t know how to love our Muslim neighbor, nor did we know how to care for the refugees created by multiple civil wars. This all changed when we met Mohammad and his great work through Tyre Church in Lebanon.” — Trace
“I was born in Beirut, Lebanon into a Muslim family. My father left me before I was born and my mother was a working mother, so practically speaking, I ended up to be a street kid. Being on the streets led me to a Sunday School ministry that is very close to our neighborhood. At the age of 6, I was invited in, and Sunday School turned out to be a great place to be… there are a lot of goodies in there: there was kool-aid, cupcakes, coloring books, coloring pencils.” — Mohammad
Finding a Calling
“I became a frequent attender, and I enjoyed the attention and love I was shown in Sunday School that I was not shown on the streets, nor was I shown by my family. When I started to wake up to life, at the age of about 12, many questions came on the scene. I was looking for answers through my religion that I was in, to no avail. At the same time, I was going to Sunday School… and it started answering some of the questions. At the age of 14, Jesus became irresistible to me.”
“I saw in Him the cure for the suffering and the sorrow I was passing through, because I was a street kid, because I didn’t have a father, because I didn’t have a mother, because I didn’t have all the things other kids had. He became real.”
“It made me want to share Christ with everybody that I met and everyone that lived within my circle, which jeopardized my life. My family had to kick me out because I was an infidel to them. Fundamentalist groups were after my tail because I was preaching Christ.”
Making His Own Way
“My pastor ended up shipping me from Lebanon to the States because my life was in jeopardy.”
Mohammad ended up at Bob Jones University in South Carolina, finding a passion and majoring in business.
After becoming homesick, he decided to go back to Lebanon during 1989, a time of raging civil war. Because of the war, he had a hard time finding a business job and filled in for a local pastor for one year. After the pastor returned, Mohammad went back to business “this is your baby, not mine. I don’t want to be a pastor, I want to be a businessman.”
At the age of 25, he had saved up half a million dollars, bought a house, was married with 2 kids, “I was cruising, things were going well, but I wasn’t doing what God wanted me to do.”
Within no time, he lost everything. Eventually, Mohammad ended up in prison for 6 months for bounced checks.
Returning to a Calling
“By 2008, I couldn’t take it anymore. There was no peace in my heart, I was not joyful, I was working like a workaholic. I finally surrendered to the Lord and said ‘I’m yours.’”
God led him to the city of Tyre, a war zone between Hezbollah and Israel, 98% muslim. There he started Tyre Church before the 2011 Syrian Refugee Crisis. In times of war, the number of orphans dramatically increases.
Caring for Refugees
“When they (refugees) came (in 2011), we were not ready to receive thousands of refugees into our center. We found ourselves in front of a crisis, literally a crisis. Hundreds and thousands of people coming in need of help. They needed medical attention and food. Some of them are orphans, some of them are widows. My wife and I looked at each other and said ‘What can we do? We can do nothing!’ Not even the UN could handle the needs of these people. We prayed and used all that God gave us. As days went on, God grew our ministry. Today, we have 1,000 refugees that come to our center.”
“They (refugees) can get help and listen to the story of Jesus Christ, something they’ve never had the opportunity to hear about in their own country. God is using all that we have to reach them.”
You can help care for
Syrian refugee kids and families