THROUGHOUT Advent and over Christmas, churches within the YBA are being encouraged to pray for and give money to help support refugees - particularly in Lebanon.
Regional Minister Revd Mary Taylor writes: "We hope that from this there will be those who move into a longer term commitment to supporting them."
Mary has been in touch with Lebanese Baptists who are working 24/7 to support the refugees who now make up one quarter of the total population of their very small country. She has been in touch with Nabil Costa, who is the Executive Director of the Lebanese Baptist Society (LSESD). Nabil also serves on the Executive Committee of the European Baptist Federation (EBF) and is a Vice-President for the Baptist World Alliance.
In reply to the YBA's question, how might Yorkshire folk help, he said: “Our relief work is 24/7 and opportunities are wide open for us. Our teams are spread all over the country, and the main good news is that thousands are hearing the good news! Many churches are packed with refugees.
Mary added: "We know that many in our YBA churches have continued to pray, to give and to support the thousands of refugees who have been displaced by the war in Syria and Iraq. Some churches have taken part in local fund-raising events, others have had members run half-marathons to send money to charities working both in the UK and in places like Calais, in Turkey and in Lebanon. Some of our churches are involved in supporting asylum seekers in the UK and have also been offering accommodation through organisations such as City of Sanctuary and Citizens UK.
"We want to encourage you to continue offering the sacrificial love of Jesus in all these different ways. So if you have already found a way as a church to respond to this refugee crisis that is great. If you are seeking a way to make a substantial difference where the need is greatest we’d like to offer a Yorkshire Baptist response.
"So we’d like to do this. We’d like to share news, needs for prayer and also encourage you in your giving. As we come towards Christmas, many churches organise or get involved with events that fund-raise for a whole range of charities. Would your church consider this year specifically praying, caring and giving as partners alongside our Lebanese brothers and sisters? Maybe you could donate your Christmas Day offering to this relief work?
"We’ll link our participation to an Advent series of reflections and stories with a daily tweet and hopefully be able to share together how our compassionate God is active through us as His people.
"You can send donations directly to the Lebanese Baptist Society - but through Advent and Christmas we’d like to suggest you channel any money given or fund-raised through the YBA so we can make a difference together. Please pay by BACS to 05-00-75-11760444 and add the reference LEBANON or send your cheques made payable to the YBA (Lebanon Appeal).
"Of course the need won’t go away after Christmas and God may well challenge us that we should stay involved. We’d like to hear what you believe God is saying."
Click here to read about how the refugee crisis is impacting Lebanon:
How we can respond: