They come early, eager to see if their names are on the list, eager to see that the food has arrived. They line up and take a handful of hand sanitizer, pass their UNHCR refugee cards over the desk for us to verify, and receive a small cash allowance for emergency needs. Then they move to the next station and pick up their bag of food, filled with many things like rice, oil, dried noodles, dried chilis, sugar, and more. For most average size families, this will be enough of the basic staples to keep them going for a week.
In other places, we show up to hundreds of refugees living in shipping containers on construction sites. Their living conditions are horrendous, and site security won’t let them leave to get food, nor pay them while work is shut down. We distribute large sacks of food and watch as they subdivide themselves into groups and each take their shares back to their shipping containers. Another brief glimpse into how difficult their lives are, and how hunger is just one of the gnawing issues they face these days. One of the young men said how much it warmed his heart to know that he was not forgotten, and that people were thinking of him, that God sees him.
Inevitably, there are always more people than we have supplies that day. They are all out of work, they are all in need. But each week we manage to add more names to the list. Inevitably every day more people send our team messages with more names, more hard stories, more pictures of struggling families. But God is always faithful, each week more resources show up, more people hear and give, and we can add more and more names and communities to the list. Starting out with supporting 36 families, just a few weeks later we are supporting over 600 people a week. The need grows, but so does our strength and support!
It’s a different kind of frontline work. We go out with masks, sanitizers, and prayers to cover us and the people we meet. We see their desperation, hear the stories of their families having no more food, no more money to buy food. As we reflect and pray, we recognize that we do not want to live with fear while others suffer. In his infinite wisdom, God has placed us here uniquely for such a time as this, and He is faithful. We trust when the emergency is over, the relationships that will have been built will continue forward and glorify the One who sends us out each day!