When I met Ihab, he stuck out. With a big cross around his neck, he cut a significantly contrasting future against the mainly Muslim backdrop of the refugee camp in Wedding where he lives.
Having served four years in Assad’s army as a medic, he has seen his share of death and suffering. This is why, even though he lives with 200 others in a one-room gymnasium and even though he is perhaps the only Christian in that camp, he is confident and well-adjusted.
Of course his life does have its challenges. As we speak, he tells me it is Ramadan, and over Ramadan, the Muslim population that dominates the camp is awake at night when they can eat. This far north, it is only dark between 10 p.m. and 4:30 a.m. He can’t get a good night’s rest.
Still, it is all easy compared to war. It’s easy compared to trying to live in Turkey as a Syrian Christian who does not speak the language and is treated with hostility. It’s easier than the perilous boat ride to Greece. And it’s easier for him than it is for his parents and two sisters living back home in a tiny Christian village in Homs, Syria.
Getting to know Ihab, I invited him to start attending our Encounter Nights at the YWAM base where we are serving. He comes on most weeks. We all want to help Ihab in any way we can, but he is fiercely independent. He wants to make his own way in his new home. He takes German lessons, English lessons, and he is about to start taking some IT courses with technology giant Cisco.
When asked what he wants to do, he says he simply wants a job and an apartment. He’d have happily stayed in Syria, Turkey, or Greece along his journey if he could have had this in peace.
And while to most of us his ambitions might seem low for a man of 29 years, when I look at where he has been, what he has seen, I could see how this could feel ambitious to him. And when I look at the unclear future he has in the current political climate, I fear that even these modest goals may take a long time to be achieved.
Please pray for him and the rest of the ethnically Christian refugees from Syria now living in Berlin. They may be a minority, but they are a precious one.