Jordan brings spirit of Christmas to Syrian refugees

  • Written by:

Daoud Kuttab |
AMMAN: Christian refugees from the conflict in Syria may feel that the Christmas spirit is in short supply this year, but Jordanians have gone out of their way to ensure that it is alive and well.
“We host events from dinners, to food distribution, to Santa Claus gift giving for members of the Sudanese, Iraqi and Syrian Christian communities in Jordan,”the Rev. Yousef Hashweh, head of the Christian and Missionary Alliance Church in Jordan and Palestine, told Arab News.

Hashweh, whose family is from Palestine, often relates his own experience when visiting refugees in Jordan.
“I try to encourage them by talking about how Palestinian refugees went through similar hardships with the hope that they can look forward to happier days in the future,” he said.
The Caritas mission in Jordan has adopted the theme of “peace” in its refugee effort.
“We know they come from areas like Mosul and Kirkuk that have gone through violence and war, and we want them to trust God that peace is at hand,” spokesperson Dana Shahin told Arab News.
Rola Habash, a volunteer with the Sweileh Baptist Church outside Amman, told Arab News most of the Iraqi Christians they worked with were awaiting papers to emigrate to Canada and Australia.
“We have been visiting them and inviting them to our homes and church, and we feel like a family with them,” he said.
The church provides food parcels and clothing for the refugees, many of whom arrived in Jordan with nothing. For Christmas, the monthly packages contained chocolate and toys for children.
The Jordan Evangelical Theological Seminary held its annual Christmas dinner for boarding students from Iraq, Syria, Eritrea, Chad, Sudan and Egypt.
“During Christmas we know that many of the students from outside of Jordan feel lonely and miss their families so we have tried to make up for that by organizing events and encouraging local families to host some of the students in their homes,” seminary president Imad Shehadeh told Arab News.
In the Iraqi city of Mosul, there was a Christmas Eve church service for the first time since Daesh was driven out of the region. Hymns and cries of joy filled Saint Paul’s church and Muslims stood with Christian worshippers amid the candles and Christmas trees.
“With this mass, we’re sending a message of peace and love, because Christ is the messenger of peace,” said Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako of Iraq’s Chaldean Catholic Church.