I’m sitting on a thin mat on the hard, dusty ground, an hour east of Beirut. We’re in the middle of farmlands, just miles from the Syrian border. Beneath my mat is an ornate, yet filthy persian rug that stretches across the room. It’s hot…so hot that I can feel a bead of sweat dripping down my back. I look down at the small glass of tea in my hands, amber-colored and scalding hot. It is thick with sugar and was just made by the woman who now sits across from me. She kneels on the ground, her long robe gathered around her feet, hiding all but her hands and face.
I take a sip and as I look up from the glass, her voice comes back into focus. The Arabic language sounded harsh and guttural to me when I first arrived here in Lebanon a week ago with the PEACE Relief team, but now it sounds soft, and I know I’ll miss it when I eventually go home. She continues to speak as she gestures to the plastic tent stretched over our heads, and I glance at the interpreter.
“She is saying that she was forced from her home in Syria. She and her family lived in a two story house there, but ISIS began bombing her neighborhood. Her two-year old niece was killed by ISIS soldiers. She had to leave with almost nothing. This rug is all she has from her home in Syria.”
The next day I spend several hours sitting with Muslim women, one by one, at the distribution center. They are refugees who have come to receive a 60-pound bag of food, but more than simply caring for their physical needs, we want to offer them spiritual care. Not all of them are comfortable with receiving prayer, but those who accept the prayer timidly come into the room and sit across from me. Each woman looks into my eyes as she shares her story. I am undone by what I hear…