While the COVID-19 pandemic has dominated our lives over the last year, the Mercy Appeal has never stopped operating quietly in the background supporting people in refugee camps and other places where poverty, natural disasters and conflicts, such as in Armenia, rarely hit the headlines. 

In the wake of the recent conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the region of Nagorno-Karabakh, Ezra* and Maryam* began to step out in faith and demonstrate Christ’s love in practical ways they’d not done before. The couple had been partnering with OM to translate resources into a local language for people groups without access to the gospel. 

Forced to flee

As the conflict escalated last September, more than half the population were forced to flee and find shelter in churches, hotels and homes across Armenia. Many left behind everything they owned. 

“When [the conflict] first started, we only prayed for the situation,” Ezra shares. “Then we thought of Matthew 25:35 where Jesus tells the story about when ‘I was hungry you gave me food; when I was thirsty you gave me water, and when I needed clothes you provided them for me.’” 

“These words of Jesus encouraged us to act. The first day we had to step out in faith. Even without the first donations [from the Mercy Appeal], we saw the needs and we stepped out – donating ourselves, using our own money or taking out a loan to buy the things that people urgently needed.” 

“We had not planned on doing a ministry like this. We only saw the needs and started working as Christians to help others in their time of need.” 

Food, Hygiene and Clothing

Supported by the Mercy Appeal and the expertise of OM’s International Disaster Response team, Ezra and Maryam began by providing and distributing food, hygiene supplies and clothing for 500 beneficiaries. But as the needs have grown and changed, so has the work. 

Mother and baby support

Some of the displaced women are pregnant or caring for their new-born babies. Having fled their homeland, many are on their own without their husbands or anyone to support them. They need clothing and supplies for themselves and their babies. In partnership with five local churches, Ezra and Maryam are assisting the most vulnerable with mother-and-baby support, and providing urgently needed clothing for children. 

While Ezra is still passionate about preaching and discipleship, he has seen how the practical demonstration of the gospel “has much more power than only speaking about it.” He and Maryam have experienced Jesus guiding them through all these challenges while showing them how to live out God’s love in the midst of conflict. 

Marine's Story

Marine* worked as an English teacher before fleeing from Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia at the start of the conflict. She thanks God for the local OM workers who have demonstrated God’s love and provided winter clothes for her daughter and other refugee children. 

“It was a big encouragement for me, because when He puts brothers and sisters beside me, I think it is like He is beside me.” 

“Yesterday, when I was reading the New Testament, I started to think that God is with me, He cares for me, because he put Christian people on my way.”

Marine’s greatest desire is for a future for her daughter, a future that is free from danger and fear. 

“I have a hope in God, I trust in God. I trust Him to prepare good days for us.” 

*Names changed for security

Give hope this Easter

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, our Mercy Appeal has continued to receive calls for help from OM teams and local church partners around the world on a scale we’ve never seen before. 

Time and again we see God working in the midst of disasters and emergencies to strengthen people’s faith and trust, while empowering them to use their resourcefulness and ingenuity with the gifts He has provided through His people. 

You can show God's love practically and spiritually by enabling a rapid response to urgent cries for help from suffering people all over the world. Give hope this Easter.

Give to the Mercy Appeal