Jordan 2012


Dates:  July 17 - 28

Ministry Focus:  Compassion ministry to Syrian and Iraqi refugees and the urban and rural poor

We are excited to once again to serve in Jordan. Grace's team will be involved in a multifaceted compassion ministry to the poor - some of them refugees from Iraq who have fled the war int heir homeland. Ministry will include visitation to refugee homes and homes of the poor with food distribution, goat loan project and backpack distribution to school children.

Updated Saturday, July 28

The Jordan Team arrived home safely this afternoon, exhausted but excited at all that the Lord did and is doing in the Middle East.  Thank you for your prayers for them.

You will have the chance to hear more stories from them and all of our other summer teams at the GO Team Celebration on Sunday night, September 16, from 6:00 - 8:45pm.  Mark the date on your calendars!

Updated Monday, July 30
E-mail from Monique


Friday afternoon, our group was dragging after the long week and a brief morning visit to The Citadel, an ancient historical site dotted with Roman pillars and ancient ruins on the highest hills in Amman.  The heat factor out on that  hillside actually overcame another tourist and our group nurse was able to attend to her while others called for medical assistance. None of our group was overcome by heat-stroke, but the warm sun did zap our energy. 

There was discussion over lunch about changing our plans and opting to have a restful afternoon rather than going out again to visit more needy homes, but the consensus was that we would push through and go out one last time, eager to make a few more divine appointments.  You will see that we are so glad we did.....

We stepped across the concrete threshold of a flat in East Amman and met three from Iraq - a father, adult son and the father's brother.  The son was the image of his father....both with strong, masculine features and intense dark eyes.  The father had been a member of the Iraqi Army, but left just one week ago, to join his son and brother in Jordan (they had come to Jordan a year ago, after the terrible bombing in the church in Baghdad).  They were hoping to immigrate to Chicago to join their sister and mother, but the brother's request for immigration had been denied.   We sensed a cloud of sadness mixed with anger in this house.  Our interpreter began to talk with them about finding true peace...salam.  Michael shared details of his experience as a refugee from Iran and it seemed that they were relating well to someone who had similar experiences.  However, the father remarked that Michael's current joy was obviously because he had endured much and now had an easy life in the U.S.  Michael had the opportunity to correct that misunderstanding, saying that he still faces serious challenges in his life and with his health, and the peace they sensed in him was not from his circumstances but from having peace with God.  As Michael spoke, their demeanor softened, and when we asked if we could pray for them, they welcomed our prayers.

The highlight of the trip for Scott was his last visit on Friday afternoon, when his group came to the house of an Orthodox Christian family from Iraq.   After inquiring about their situation, we learned that the family has applied for immigration to Australia. "Soon, we were talking about eternal things.  As I began sharing that we all had sin and could not save ourselves, our translator, led by the Spirit, took over and began sharing rapidly in Arabic.  At the end, he said that the 70 yr. old head of the household would like to give his life to the Master and he asked me to lead him in prayer.   Four of the six adults in the family prayed with us!  The elderly woman in the house was in tears even before we began praying.  As we were leaving, I said to the man 'I hope you will be happy in Australia,' to which he grinned broadly, pointed to his heart, and said 'I am ALREADY happy...right HERE.' And his wife said 'I'm happy too!'  This was the greatest joy of my week."  - Scott

Friday evening, after packing bags for our journey home, we gathered for our last meal and a time of praise-sharing at our hosts' home.  We were joined by a teen brother and sister (17 and 16) who had volunteered to translate for us last Saturday and became so enthusiastic for the compassion work that they woke early every day this week in order to go out on visits with us!  We were just as jazzed to have them with us, and it has been a delight to watch as these local young adults caught the Master's heart for compassion work!  Their mom and dad came with them Friday night to meet "these Americans" that their kids had been talking about all week....we were able to commend them for the fine young man and woman they are raising, and thanked them for sharing them with us.  We were also blessed with a young professional man and a young pastor who translated for us Friday and Saturday and then adjusted their work schedules this week (taking vacation time) in order to continue going out on visits the rest of the week!  Jad even asked if he could get our dates for next year in order to pre-arrange his vacation time so he can go out with us again.  Praise God for spreading His compassion through the hearts of these local brothers who can continue to share His help and hope!

Our journey home began in the wee hours of Saturday, departing at 2:30 AM.  We made our tight connections in Frankfort and London (looked like a lovely sunny day with puffy clouds...good Olympic weather!).  Kami, a soccer player, was able to snap a photo of the Olympic soccer stadium from above! We arrived in LA on time and with all but one of our bags....and that bag was located and scheduled to be delivered today (Sunday)!

Thank you so much for your support and prayers and encouragement...we were honored to have the privilege of being on the "front lines" and yet are very certain that we relied heavily on you, our back-up team, supporting us from back home.  Every bag of food we delivered, every shoe fitted onto a little child's foot, every tear we shared with those who are despairing their tragedies, every school backpack we distributed, every goat given to a needy family and every prayer of encouragement that we shared, it was as if your hands and your hearts were along with us in these actions.

Shokran....Thank you! Blessings, Monique for Journey to Jordan 2012

Updated Friday, July 27
E-mail from Monique

Ahalan...Greetings from Amman!

Our days have been long...typically up by 7 AM (or earlier for early risers like George) and not getting back to our rooms until 10 or 11 PM in the evening, but even so our days have flown by and I am writing to you on our last full day in Jordan.  We are so grateful for the harmonious joy and unity we  have shared this week while sharing compassion with many, alongside our Jordanian hosts.  Their care for the poorest of the poor and those who have lost so much (refugees, widows, wounded and orphaned) is contagious and we have much to learn from their soft hearts that have not become calloused to all the heartache they encounter 365 days a year...but rather are energized to make a difference with help and hope shared with one individual or family at a time.

We have had the privilege of crossing the thresholds of many this past crowded hillside apartment complexes, rural village homes and rustic tent dwellings.   Here are just a few of our experiences...
  • While visiting a widow from Syria, probably in her 50's or 60's, she told Hal, Debbie, Kami, Scott and our hosts how her son had been killed just 19 days ago.  Far from home, in an unfamiliar country, she has no family here with her.  She does not know where her daughter is now.   Our team listened to her story and were moved by her plight.  In addition to bringing her a 50 pound bag of food, the team brought tender hearts willing to meet her where she was at, and when asked if they could pray with her, she said "Yes."  Through our host's ability to translate, Kami (14 yrs. old) began to speak to God on her behalf, and the woman began to weep.  After prayer, she hugged and kissed Kami repeatedly, telling her that she reminded her of her daughter.  
  • Visiting a single mother in East Amman, Sargon, Michael and I were very interested in learning about her young daughter, Manda, who is ready to start 1st grade.   Abandoned by her husband, mom is raising a bright young girl by herself with extremely limited resources, so paying for education is not possible.  Hearts in Need would like to find a sponsor for Manda's education (approx. $500 would cover an entire year of tuition).   Mom was hoping she could prepare Manda for the 1st grade entrance exam so she would not be shy when asked the questions.  We gave Manda a bright blue, school backpack with school supplies and her eyes lit up!  The local pastor who was guiding our visits said his heart goes out especially to the single moms struggling to raise little ones.  Before departing, we prayed together, asking the Father to keep this little family in His care.  

    As we left their flat, the next door neighbor with three eager young boys, invited us to stop and visit them....and we discovered that their mom teaches at the Catholic school where Manda would attend, and she works with the remedial students.  She expressed her tender heart for the children who require extra help.  She offered to help prepare Manda for the 1st grade entrance exam!  We were happy to be able to give three more HIN backpacks to her three young sons before we left that household, thanking Father for this great neighbor who exhibit the love of God, for providing an educational assistant for Manda (right next door) and asking His favor to remain on their home and family.
  • When gathering at a church up north in Mafraq, preparing for a day visiting with Syrian refugees, we met a young American named Steven who had arrived there from a Damascus suburb only two weeks ago.  He and his young family had been living there for three years (he and his wife have a 3 yr. old and a 10 month old baby).  He spoke of what had begun as a protest for justice has now developed into a deadly armed conflict.  They had been in an area that was not touched by the violence...that is, until just recently.  Their flat was on the top floor of an apartment, across the street from a city square, and when the conflict came to their square, the family hid in a back bedroom for 5 days under gunfire, before making a dangerous journey, sometimes bullets buzzing over their heads, to get to the Jordanian border.  Steven's heartache for what is happening in their adopted land is evident in his eyes.  He and his family are in desperate need of nurturing care and recharging of drained batteries...and yet he still feels the pull to return to share eternal hope with the people.  Please pray for Steven and his family.
Weary but yet eager to share compassion and hope with families today, please ask Father for His guidance to homes He wants us to visit, and that we will reflect Him well when we go out.  Many, if not all of us, will leave a piece of our  hearts here with our brethren and these precious people when we depart on Saturday.  We are in awe of the incredible work of compassion that our partners are doing here, 365 days a year.  We ask  you to remember Jamal and Rami and our translators who continue to share the light of hope.

You can also pray for us as we process all things we have been privileged to see, hear and experience in this land.  We are forever grateful for this opportunity to come to Jordan.   If you wouldn't mind indulging us, we have more stories to tell, and will continue to send them as I compile them even after our return.

Monique  for Journey to Jordan 2012

Updated Thursday, July 26
E-mail from Monique

We drove south to Moab on Monday, past the ancient city of Madeba (still a bustling city) and turning southwest, we headed toward the new community center called The House of Ruth.  Before reaching the center, we pulled off the road onto a dusty side road, and at the site our vehicles, children began running to meet us...familiar with the visits of our hosts. The children live in a Palestian refugee camp that has been here since 1948, and many of the poorest families still live in tents without electricity or water.  Concrete dwellings dot the hillside, which is parched and barren.  Some of the children run barefoot over the hot ground of dirt and rocks.


Today, the children lined up to receive new, blue backpacks from Hearts in Need.   As we brought out additional toys to share, the eager children became chaotic and the neat lines became a swarm and some children began to grab from one another.  To restore calm, we brought that distribution to an end, heading over to another side of the camp where we distributed food bags to some of the families living in tents.  The bleakness of their location on the outskirts of town was striking...the challenges of raising a family here, the difficulties of survival under the desert sun...the desperation of their situation left a strong impression.

Then we headed to the House of Ruth, about 8-10 minutes away from the camp, surrounded by olive trees and grape vines, it seemed an oasis in comparison.  We had a tour of this newly purchased property that is primed for renovations in order to open soon as a fully functioning community center that we pray will be an oasis of help and hope for many, including those in the camp nearby.  Our group had written verses on smooth stones and gave them as a memorial to the House of Ruth, and with prayer and a shared meal of mansef (traditional rice and lamb meal believed to be the one Abraham prepared for his heavenly visitors), we enjoyed the "soft" opening of the center, with a Grand Opening to follow once the renovations are complete!  There were many eager prayers that Father would generously provide the funds to do the renovations (a local engineer has already agreed to donate his time, so the funds needed are only for the materials!) and that the center will be a place that brings help and hope through the library, medical clinic, community education, coffee house, and athletic programs...lasting hope that is!

On Tuesday, we visited homes with some Iraqi Christian families this morning, and also Sabeans who are followers of John the Baptist.  While many are waiting to immigrate to the US or Australia or elsewhere, we were able to encourage them during this time of waiting, and to point them towards the eternal hope found in the One that John the Baptist himself pointed to as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.  At each house we had the opportunity to bring a  food bag with staples to supplement the meals of a family of four or more, for about two weeks.  Long after we are gone and the food bags are emptied of its staples, we pray that the fragrance of compassion and the spirit of the Lord will remain with these homes, bringing light into their hearts.

Blessings, Monique for Journey to Jordan 2012

                      (This picture was taken at the Syrian border)

Updated Wednesday, July 25
E-mail from Scott

We want to thank you for your faithful prayers for our team these past three days.  It is so obvious that the enemy has been using various tactics trying to distract and discourage the team and it's members as we have been reaching into the lives and homes of so many Syrian refugees (Thursday and Saturday), Jordanian villagers on the Syrian border (Friday), and Iraqi refugees (Saturday).  In so many of these homes, our visits are received as a cup of cool refreshing water with great appreciation, in a few homes we are received with apprehension, and in a few with argument or opposition. Please continue to pray for the team members that they would not be overwhelmed by the severity of the physical and spiritual needs that they are seeing each day in homes they visit.  While the needs are so overwhelming to us, they do not overwhelm our God.

A sample of the stories from some of our visits follows:

1. On Saturday, we went with a Kurdish believer from a local church and delivered a food box to a home headed by a 21-year old Sunni Iraqi young man, with his older sister and aunt. As they recounted their story, they were still almost shell-shocked, having no real hope.  The father had died of natural causes in Iraq, the mother had been killed by a militant group, and another sister killed in another incident.  Iraqis are not permitted to work in Jordan, so they sit and wait each day without hope, without family, without support.  As the team spoke to the three of them, we found out that a local church had visited and given them a New Testament, and after discussion they agreed to read Matthew 5,6,7 aloud that night together. We prayed in tears with them as we left. We hope to visit this home again briefly to encourage them.

2. Next door to this brother and sister, we visited an Iraqi family with 3 daughters and a 12-yr old son. Hal recognized the mother as one who had volunteered to guide his team to certain Syrian homes on Thursday. She had nothing, but was helping others. The husband had been beaten on the ankles and legs with electric cattle prods in Iraq, and could barely walk as he had lost feeling in his legs. The UN had stopped accepting refugee support and relocation applications from Iraqis, due to the influx of Syrians, so they had no income for rent or food, and survived only by 3JD ($4.50) a day earned by the 12-year old boy who washed cars. Please pray for this family.

3. On Saturday morning, one of our 4 teams went on visits with a pastor who was eager to reach out to Syrians from his predominately Iraqi church.  We took food bags  to a couple of destitute families he knew, and they referred him to 3 other families they wanted him to meet and were newer in the country.  As we went into each of these homes, the pastor was surprised that he recognized the children in each, as they had already been showing up in his kids' programs, brought by other families. Our food box distribution became the opportunity for the pastor to meet the parents, find out where they lived, and put one more link in the chain as we prayed with them and showed them the compassion of God.  Our visits were warmly received.

Updated Sunday, July 22
E-mail from Monique

Ahalan! The second full day here was an adventure in the north (with happy goat-herders George and Denise especially enjoying the fruits of their goat fundraising efforts!) as we distributed milking goats to needy families in a Jordanian border village. 

We first met a gentlemen and his sons who had received two goats two years ago through Global Hope's goat program...they proudly showed us their current herd of 13 healthy goats, grown through their original two.  It has become a family enterprise and they are eager now to help their neighbors..  They accompanied us the rest of the day as we took goats to 6 other families, each one receiving two as goats are herd animals who fare better when they have a companion.   Our hosts will continue to stay in touch with the families, bringing feed for the goats and checking up on the welfare of the family members at the same time. 

We ended our day of distribution by driving to a quiet spread of farmland a kilometer or so south of the Syrian border.  The sweet aroma of the rows of tomato plants and the cornstalks blowing serenely in the warm breeze were so peaceful, making it hard to imagine the conflict that has been destructive further into that country.

We continued to visit Syrian refugee families on Saturday, hearing their stories of unimaginable loss.   One group visited homes and noticed a fascinating contrast...some were those who fled the violence, refusing to become involved in the conflict, while other homes had wounded young freedom fighters who fled here to try to find medical attention so they can return to the conflict.  The reality is they both had big needs, trying to survive with almost no resources here - rent, food, etc. require funds that these families do not have.  True compassion work does not take any sides, it goes were the need is, offering a helping hand regardless of who is on the receiving side, trusting that the Father will take it from there. 

(Sargon adds the following) Praising the Father this morning with our Jordanian brethren was very sweet and hearing the story of Peter from Acts 10 was an encouragement to continue to go out into new regions, wherever the Father directs us. This group is eager to do that.  We all remain healthy, are adjusting well to the time zone, and are relishing the Arabian hospitality.

Blessings, Monique for Journey to Jordan 2012

Updated Saturday, July 21

E-mail from Monique and Scott

After our three-leg journey via San Francisco and Frankfort, we arrived on time in Jordan with all our luggage with us…all except for Michael’s Bible - which he had given to a Syrian gentleman he met on the final flight who had many questions about the book - Michael offered him the opportunity to read it for himself.  They had had a three-hour conversation and Michael was happy to share the book that changed his life.

Arrival time was 1:30 AM here, and by the time we checked into our rooms, most of us were closing our eyes for some horizontal sleep just as the morning sun was starting to glow in the eastern sky.  We were able to sleep in and then begin our day with our hosts at noon, enjoying a Jordanian luncheon and then packing both food boxes full of nutritious staples and student backpacks with school supplies.  (No one fell asleep due to jet lag – yay!) 

Our gracious hosts prepared us for visiting Syrian families in the eastern part of the city and then we headed out with bags of food to bring them some assistance during this difficult time in their lives. We must have brought the desert heat with us from California, but we were undaunted as we climbed narrow stairways and passed through rough, narrow alleyways into flats housing people newly arrived in Jordan, escaping the violence in Syria.  We asked them about their journey and how they came to be here.  Through interpreters we heard stories of imprisonment and beatings, killings of family members and fleeing with their remaining family, seeking refuge in Jordan. Some of our highlights...

Debbie was touched as she met a modern day "Mary" who had fled from Syria with her 5 children, seeking shelter in a foreign land while carrying her sixth child in her womb.  Her husband has no job job here and they are far from any friends, yet they have been reaching out daily to new arrivals from Syria with what little they have.

As the team was leaving a home that had been pre-arranged by our hosts, they were invited into another, where Hal and Devon accepted the invitation.  They met a couple of Syrian Freedom Fighters, angry young men, one of whose hand had been blown off, and the other injured severely.   They have experienced conflict and deep wounds, yet are eager to return and fight after trying to find medical help here.

Devon and Vicki were touched by the story of a grandparents who have come here with a few of their daughters and grandchildren, grieving the killing of one of their sons-in-law and the separation from their sons who remain in the conflict in Syria.  The grandmother spoke of their trauma at the border when authorities removed the grandbaby from her arms, sending the baby and mother back to Syria, refusing them entry to Jordan.  As our group prayed for them, all we could say is "we can't comprehend the pain you are experiencing, but we care deeply, and there is One who cares for you."   

We have heard from some of the families that we visit that just talking about their horrendous experiences with people who genuinely care, has been so comforting.  We are humbled to have this privilege to be the hands and heart of our Master to people like this, and we feel this responsibility deeply. One young boy had been in a soccer club in Homs, Syria. The government forces came and gunned down his entire soccer team, and he alone escaped death.   Please pray for this young boy as he is experiencing post-traumatic stress like we can hardly begin to comprehend.

One of our 3 teams was directed to specific homes by a former sheik. After the team prayed with the family in one house he, he followed with a rote prayer.  As his chant ended, there was a look on his face afterward that communicated he realized the emptiness of a routine chant in comparison to speaking with our Father directly.

While the team was in one home, the phone rang and the family found out that three more relatives had been killed in Syria. It is real, it is emotional, and it has devastated these individuals.  As we reach out, we are doing something that UN and government aid cannot do...beyond the bags of food supplies we bring, we are listening to their stories, offering our hearts to bind together with theirs, (sometimes sharing tears) and when we have permission we are talking to the Father asking for his care and comfort to invade their desperate situations.

The weather is very warm (hovering around 100 degrees, with an unusual touch of humidity) and the days are long, so we would appreciate you remembering us to the Father.  A number of the team have experienced opposition and we also would welcome your back-up for us on your knees.

Mas salam.....with his peace, Monique and Scott  - for Journey to Jordan 2012

Updated Thursday, July 19

The Jordan team has arrived in Amman, and is beginning its compassion ministry to refugees and the urban and rural poor of Jordan.  Thanks for your prayers for them!

Updated Wednesday, July 18

The Jordan team was prayed off the Grace campus by an enthusiastic group of friends and supporters yesterday morning, and sent on their way to the Middle East.