Post written by Rebecca Rupp
If you’ve ever seen the Voice of the Martyrs magazine floating around the Commons, you’ve thumbed through page after page of testimonies from people whose lives turned from darkness to light through salvation in Christ. Their encouraging stories are so often accompanied by the intense sacrifice of conversion in hostile places of the world. These new brothers and sisters walk incredibly hard roads of economic ruin, social isolation, and intense persecution because of their newly professed faith. For our generosity drive this Christmas, King’s Cross is focusing on creating a Compassion Fund for these kinds of brothers and sisters so that their basic needs can be met by the body of Christ, of which they are now apart.
Over a year ago, King’s Cross Leadership began prayerfully considering whether we could partner with a refugee ministry. Our heart was to find someone who not only met physical needs, but also focused on the spiritual condition of those displaced by war. There are a lot of large, formal organizations with impressive websites that do relief work in the name of Jesus. Finding the names and email addresses of people who share the gospel in these extremely hostile regions, however, is not as easy as a Google search. These missionaries’ efforts are often underground, and their contact info is shared on a need-to-know basis. After three months of working with the Acts 29 network to find that contact, King’s Cross was able to connect with Tom and Damaris Otremba.
Damaris comes from a long line of Syrian Christians. Her family converted in Damascus decades ago and she grew up in a strong tradition of evangelism, church planting, and outreach. Now, she and her husband, Tom, work as Acts 29 church planters in Poland. They have run a number of ministries in Poland, as well as refugee ministries with displaced people flocking to Europe. Now, they focus most of their efforts with refugees on summer programs at camps in Lebanon where they share the gospel during English workshops.
Damaris’ family often prayed for fellow Syrians who had no access to the gospel. They longed for God to open a door to share with their Muslim neighbors. When the war came, it was both heartbreaking and yet also a reason to rejoice: God was scattering people to places where they could finally hear the gospel freely and be adopted into His family.
Where Damaris and Tom are able to evangelize through workshops, Damaris’ cousins stay on the ground in Lebanon to disciple those who have responded to Christ’s invitation to eternal life. They plant house churches, baptize new believers, train up pastors, teach evangelism skills, and establish church governance and accountability. They hope to truly build up a solid foundation of robust, mature Christians among refugee converts. From there, the gospel can continue to spread like wildfire, and they can give the church the best chance at avoiding false doctrine or withering after the missionaries are gone.
While Lebanon is less hostile to Christianity than Syria, it is still considered extremely dangerous to do the work they do. We cannot share the names and specific location of Damaris’ family online for safety reasons. New believers must exercise caution around who they tell, even loved ones. Many women and children who respond in faith are ostracized from their husbands or parents, and many face threats to their lives unless they recant. Our refugee brothers and sisters came to Lebanon with nothing because of the war, but what little they had is often taken away at the moment of conversion.
This is where KCC can play a small role through prayer and generosity. We are all members of the same body in Christ, and the Lord has designed that so that where there is abundance for some, the needs of those who are struggling may be met through their generosity (2 Corinthians 8:13-14). Our missionary friends have communicated that instability in Lebanon has led to huge inflation costs. Refugees in their region get no assistance from the government or organizations like UNICEF, the Red Cross, etc. Prices for basic needs like heat, bread, etc. are as high or higher than in the U.S. and these brothers have no way of making the money to afford it. Many are burning their shoes or clothing to stay warm. Many are parking at gas stations for days as they wait for fuel to restock. Many are struggling to feed their children. Yet, there are reports of incredible joy and steadfast expectancy among refugee believers. They pray confident prayers. They see God work miracles to stretch resources that seem long-exhausted. They stand in His promises because they know their hope is unshakeable, and they see Him prove faithful time and time again.
May King’s Cross come alongside their prayers and be a means by which God provides for their bold and expectant prayers this Christmas. May they ask Christ for their daily bread, and may He supply it through the generosity He has infused into His people, no matter where they are on the globe.
How to give:
Write a check to KCC and put “Refugee Christmas” in the memo line. Or click the link below to give online.