Syrian Refugees Find Reasons for Joy In Turkey: “If You All Are Smart You’ll Become Christians!”

Local missionaries delivering aid to refugees in Turkey had never seen an elderly Muslim woman look anything but sullen, so they were curious when they saw her laugh.

Haya* had shown the Christian workers to a new camp where refugees were badly in need of food, water and other aid, and she was talking with a group of Syrians.

“For the first time we saw a grin come across her pain-hardened face,” the native ministry director said. “We were curious and asked her, ‘What happened? What did they say that has made you laugh?’ Because we had never seen her happy before.”

Haya’s pains included her husband dying in Syria, and then her fleeing to Turkey with her son, who had since gone to another city to find work, and her daughter-in-law – who one night fled without explanation – leaving Haya to care for their children.

Her laughter, the director learned, came not so much from what the other refugees said, but what she had told them.

“I looked long into her eyes and thought of these wonders that God is doing.”

She turned to the ministry director and, still giggling, explained to him and his co-workers: “They said, ‘You are always speaking so highly of these Christians, and you’re even visiting all the tents with them; what’s happened, have you become a Christian now?’ I answered them, ‘At this age and with this ignorant mind of mine, I can’t become anything, but if you all are smart you’ll look into it, learn about it and you’ll become Christians!’”

As was her custom when speaking with refugees at other camps, Haya further told the Syrians about the aid workers’ kindness.

“These men are just people too,” she had told them, “but even though you don’t love them, even though you don’t know them, they come every month to help. Even your own families have gone and abandoned you, but these people haven’t left you.’”


Her health failing, Haya had taken all measures to keep herself strong enough to look after her grandchildren, and other women in her tent camp looked to her for help as well, the director said. She had been a midwife in Syria, and she also knows how to treat illnesses with herbs and other natural remedies, he said.

The director said her praising his aid team to the other refugees touched him.

“I looked long into her eyes and thought of these wonders that God is doing,” the director said. “This elderly woman who can neither read nor write is telling people to go learn about Christ. I certainly could not have spoken so openly, but God is definitely using this woman whether she knows it or not.”

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SOURCE: Christian Aid Mission