The focus of international attention on the unfolding events in Libya has – by and large – not been on the plight of thousands of refugees who have fled the unrest in their country.
Mindful of this, WorldShare’s North African regional partners sent a team to the border of Tunisia and Libya to see what help they could provide.
“The relief camp we served had a population of about 15,000-18,000 people,” says one team member, Jose, as he recalls his experiences on the 10-day mission. “People were coming every day and others were leaving every day. When they had means, they would continue their trip.
“We had just 20 workers to serve the 18,000 people. The camp was coordinated by the Red Crescent on behalf of the World Food Programme. Our team was given responsibility to cook the meals, to distribute the food and the drinks.
“In the beginning, our organization was the only one serving meals, and we were unable to satisfy the entire population. We served one hot meal during the day.
“The most difficult thing was the first day when the food was finished. I could not sleep the whole night, thinking of all those people who did not have a meal that first day. Many people were in line but didn’t eat; it really hurt.
"We tried to open a box of food, but it was not enough for them. That was the most difficult for me. In the coming days we were able to do it better and finally almost all the 18,000 people were fed.
“There are many things that touched my heart. First, I saw that as we worked in a team with a good spirit of service that this was really worth doing. We have seen that a very good testimony was left by the evangelical church there.
"The work was appreciated by international organizations like the United Nations, even the local government and the civil committee. They really appreciated the work that was done by Christians.
“I felt like Jesus who was multiplying the bread and fish to feed the 5,000 people. I felt how it could have been for the disciples. It was a privilege for me to experience it, because God allowed our meals to multiply to feed all those people.
“I had the realization of Matthew 25 that says that Jesus calls his servants to enter into the harvest. He says when I was a foreigner you came, when I was thirsty you gave me something to drink, when I was hungry you gave me food.
"At a certain moment I felt that it was not only people I was serving, it was Jesus himself that I was serving. This experience really touched me and I think it has started in my life a desire to get involved even more in such kind of ministry.
“There is continuity in the work because there are people who will stay in the camps. (WorldShare’s partner) …will send 8 people, and they will do sports activities with the people there. We will have a tent for counselling, for building relationships, for people who need to share what they have in their hearts. Also activities of raising awareness of certain diseases that are starting to become a problem in the camp.
“I’m sure the people felt the difference when it was Christians who were distributing the food. They saw the way we work. That was a testimony. Some of them we could talk to them and pray for them. I know the team is thinking to have a tent for Christians to worship.
"Because it is a closed country we need to do things wisely. Not to shock people. Not to be accused of taking advantage. I know that this is something that is in the hearts of Christians serving there.
“One thing that impressed me was how a Christian organization could react so rapidly to the call of the government, how they had the boldness to commit themselves without knowing where the financial resources or human resources would come from.
"God honoured their faith and blessed them to accomplish the task in a special way, taking the opportunity to be a good testimony to the country.”