Letter from the Rectory April 2017
Father Daniel is a Syrian priest aged 26. With another priest, he oversees a camp for more than 700 Iraqi Christians most of whom fled their villages last summer. Daniel knows every child in the camp – all 200 – by name.
When he walks through the camp, they gravitate towards him, holding his hand, basking in his smile. He preaches in Aramaic, the language Jesus spoke.
World Vision work with Daniel to provide the displaced people with what they need: food vouchers, protein like meat and cheese, supporting small businesses such as hairdressing, cooking and tailoring.
Father Daniel’s new congregation are hungry for healing. “What happened to them was a big trauma,” he says. “They need to be educated on how to deal with this loss. But they need more than handouts,” he adds, “they need hope.”
When the children first came, Daniel made them draw their feelings: they drew guns and bombs and war. He repeated the exercise after six months. “Now draw your dream,” he said. “I saw pictures of doctors, teachers, singers and dancers.”
The Christian message is above all one of hope: that life doesn’t have to be as it is now. As we come again to the events of Good Friday and Easter Day, we are reminded that it is because of Jesus’ supreme sacrifice on the Cross and his resurrection that we have hope today.
Just as those Syrian refugees need more than handouts, so we each need more than our creature comforts, our families and friends, beauty and creativity. Jesus came that we might have life, life in all its fullness (John 10: 10).