With the upcoming release of our short documentary “Trapped in Transition” coming on December 3, we are also sharing written stories from our trip to the Middle East where footage for the film was captured. As part of the film crew we sent our president, Kevin McKay, our communications coordinator, Luke McKee and our film maker, Robert Mentov. Over the next 6 weeks we will be sharing the stories from their travels as they followed national workers from the Free Evangelical Association of Lebanon (FEAL). For more information on the upcoming film and the official premiere please visit the event page here.
In Canada we take our mobility for granted. It may not seem like such a blessing when sitting in a car travelling from Toronto to Montreal, but it is a blessing that is under appreciated. In Canada we have the mobility to go wherever we want, whenever we want. When we landed on the ground in Lebanon to film “Trapped in Transition” we quickly discovered that the ease of mobility Canadians enjoy is not something refugees share.
As our film crew journeys with FEAL national workers, many of the refugees they are connected with would open up and share their stories of fleeing Syria. These are not stories of simply getting in a car and driving away from conflict. Each story we heard conveyed a different kind of fear, terror and chaos. For them, their journey was not a long and mundane car ride. It was an escape from one of the worst places imaginable.
These people did not have time to organize an exit strategy, they could not remove money from banks, pack all their belongings and leave at their leisure. We heard people share that before they left they heard ISIS was just a single town over. With ISIS less than a half an hour away, these people left immediately. They did not have time to go home for fear that ISIS could arrive at any second. One person we met returned home to find an ISIS marking on his door identifying him as a Christian. He did not enter the home, he just ran. These people found any way they could to get out and they fled. Life at the time was reduced to a simple question; stay and die, or leave and live.
All sides of the Syrian combat have committed immense atrocities and danger is everywhere in Syria. The violence these people have seen will remain with them for the rest of their lives. One family shared of a harrowing 5 hour journey out of a major Syrian city. As the violence descended they boarded a bus that would take them to Lebanon. As they began the long journey towards safety, their bus was halted by a group of extremists. The extremists boarded the bus, ordering all to leave and separate into groups of males and females. One of the family members said they were fearful that they would execute all of the men on the bus. Instead, they brought out an opposing soldier and after warning those traveling that the travellers must align themselves to the Islamic faith, beheaded the soldier in front of them.
Their minds will forever hold that memory. As a Canadian whose access to violence is limited I cannot even begin to comprehend the horrors that accompany this memory. How does someone live with such memories? How do they continue to exist day-to-day? Their strength in the face of such adversity and horrors is inspiring and yet heartbreaking. Nobody should see such horrors in their lifetime.
In this way they have arrived on the doorstep of other countries. They have no supplies, they have no comforts and in many cases, they have no hope. These people are rejected and isolated in their daily lives, living with the horrors of war as their memories. Their terrifying journeys are just the beginning of their lives as refugees. As millions begin to settle in countries such as Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq they discover that their lives have been irreparably changed. They face an uncertain future. A future where international aid is a long way off.
These are the people our national workers are connecting with. These are the people the Free Evangelical Association of Lebanon are working with to share God’s unconditional love.
Keep an eye on our blog next Sunday for Part 2 of the Trapped in Transition blog series! Next week will be the stories of our national workers and how they are serving the millions of refugees living in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon. You can watch the official trailer for the documentary below!