by Pastor John Clark, Crossroads Community Church, Ottawa Lake, MI / Shane Lakatos, SSFAC Case Manager
Ziad,* his pregnant wife, and their 1-year-old son ran through dark streets to the car that would transport them to the airport. As the sun rose, the car was stopped at numerous checkpoints of different warring factions in the Syrian conflict.
After paying off bribes at the checkpoints and buying airline tickets, Ziad and his young family arrived in Toledo with only $500. Knowing little English and having only one contact, they were scared and exhausted. Their friend put them in touch with Social Services for the Arab Community (SSFAC), a faith-based non-profit organization serving Arab immigrants and refugee families, where they received immediate assistance for their basic needs.
We had no place to go … no place to even sleep.”
Beyond the immediate, practical needs, SSFAC also began assisting them with the long-term issues of asylum, employment and education. Ziad and his family were accepted and loved by followers of Jesus serving them through SSFAC. In time, Ziad began a new relationship with Jesus.
SSFAC gave us a new family and a chance at a future in America,”
After two challenging years, Ziad’s family is not only self-sufficient, but they are also offering the same love and acceptance they received by helping new immigrants and refugees in Toldeo. Ziad is opening a mechanic shop and sees it as his personal opportunity to help others in need.
Greater Toledo is home to the largest Arab community per capita in the state of Ohio and, along with Detroit, is part of a region that has the largest per capita of Arabs in the Western Hemisphere. Due to the tragic situation in the Middle East, families like Ziad’s continue to arrive.
Crossroads Community Church, located in metro Toledo, has recognized that God is bringing these families into our community to be loved and accepted. Crossroads is involved with and supports the important work of SSFAC for families like Ziad’s.
The Syrian conflict and ISIS have caused the number of refugees in the world to more than double. Since 2011, SSFAC has served 400 local families, and the client list is growing. With a partnership branch in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, SSFAC’s influence has deepened among the Arabic people of Toledo.
Ziad, his wife and two children are appreciative to followers of Jesus who welcomed the strangers and have given them a new life.
*names have been changed