Syrian and Iranian Refugees Enjoy a Christmas to Remember


Date:  2014-01-12

By Jeremy Reynalds
Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service

AMMAN, JORDAN (ANS) -- There's no better way of celebrating the Christmas season than spreading the joy and love of Christ.

Isam Ghattas

According to a letter from Isam Ghattas, the founder and president of Manara (it means lighthouse) International, thanks to a number of donors in America, the ministry held a Christmas banquet in Fuheis.

That's a town in the Jordanian governorate of Balqa, just over 12 miles northwest of Amman, and mostly populated with Arab Christians.

In addition to monetary donors, a local church opened up its banqueting hall.

Ghattas said the area was strewn with Christmas garlands and colorful baubles of red and gold. There were 18 tables covered with red tablecloths and centerpieces that helped show the joy of Christmas.

A beautiful Christmas tree

There was also a decorative Christmas tree with twinkling lights shining brightly during the banquet.

Ghattas said, "'Arab time' was not a factor on this particular day. The refugees were showing up a half hour early. It was encouraging because it showed their anticipation for it."

By the time the banquet was scheduled to start, the 18 tables were almost filled up.

Ghattas said he enjoyed going table to table to meet each of the families.

Some of the attendees at the banquet.

He continued, "Some were local, while others journeyed far via bus from a town outside of Amman called Salt. Most of these residents from Salt were Syrian refugees that I was meeting, with most of them being women and children."

He added, "I (also) met various refugees, old and new, from Iraq and Syria with most of them coming from a Christian background."

Fun games and activities were provided for the children as well as for the adults. This kept everyone entertained while waiting for the food..

Eighty extra meals had to be ordered at the last minute, Ghattas said, because the number of guests was more than anticipated.

While the children were enjoying the fun activities, Father Paul gave a 20 minute message about the meaning of Christmas and the celebration behind it. Ghattas said he concluded his message with a prayer of hope, faith and love.

Ghattas said the food soon arrived. Plates were given first to children then adults.

"It was a blessing to watch everyone enjoy the hot meal. While they ate, a few of us went around and distributed candy and colorful stuffed heart pillows to the children."

The women received ballet slippers, and each family was given a bag full of food - a "Joy Bag."

According to Ghattas, "The afternoon was a festive one and filled with lots of cheer thanks to the partners in America who made it happen. We hope to provide more Christmas banquets ... "

Ghattas asked for prayer for Manara's continuing ministry and those individuals whom it serves.

Manara International was founded by Isam Ghattas more than 40 years ago. He came to Christ by reading a Bible he was given, and as a result has a desire to ensure that the Word of God is available to everyone.

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