Melanie, a devout disciple of Yeshua in her mid-twenties, has chosen to move to Syria to work as a translator with Frontier Alliance International in their partnership with the Operation Good Neighbor unit of the Israeli Defense Forces. I had the privilege of asking Melanie a few questions before she departed for Syria.
ML: What made you decide to travel to Syria?
Melanie: I was in a period of unemployment after finishing a work contract in Geneva, Switzerland. I was actively seeking guidance from God to as where he might want me to go in my next step. I hoped that the next step, whether paid or unpaid employment, would put me in a place where I could improve my Arabic language skills and practically serve underprivileged people. I had been following the organization Frontier Alliance International for some time and knew that they were requesting the support of medical personnel for their work in Iraq, Kurdistan, and Syria. My best friend is a nurse, and one day she called me and said, “Let’s apply and go together.” We applied, were accepted, and have had Syria in our sights ever since!
ML: Did you feel specifically called to go to Syria?
Melanie: Oddly enough, I haven’t felt specifically called to go to Syria. I would say I am specifically called to love the Lord with my heart, soul, and mind, and to follow the way of the Master by considering others as more important than myself.
I felt as though a door to Syria was opened before me, and the Lord was showing that it was his hand that was on the handle. It has been my delight to say a heartfelt “YES!” to this invitation. I believe our Master’s words when he says that the harvest is plentiful and the laborers are few. I truly believe it is an honor to go to Syria as one of his laborers, even in light of the many costs and difficulties that await.
ML: What will you be doing and for how long?
Melanie: I will be joining one of FAI’s medical clinics in a village in southern Syria. The operation of these clinics is a component of the Operation Good Neighbor unit of the Israeli Defense Forces. The clinic I will be joining is treating trauma patients from the ongoing civil war. In general, the people of Syria have been suffering without healthcare and access to other basic necessities such as consistent nutrition and education since the early days of the war. FAI is currently beginning by addressing the urgent medical needs, with hopes to eventually begin educational programs and other forms of community development in the area. I will primarily function as a translator, translating between Spanish, English, and Arabic. I will likely be helping with aftercare treatments and patient follow-up, as well as hopefully building relationships with members of the community.
ML: Have you ever done something like this before?
Melanie: I have packed up my life and left my family many times now, but never with the weight that has come with my decision to move to Syria. When I was in the eighth grade I very clearly remember praying a prayer similar to Isaiah, where in chapter 6 he says, “Here I am LORD, send me.” God took that little prayer seriously. Ever since I was eighteen, I have lived in a different city every year, spending significant time in Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, Israel, and Switzerland. This will be my first time directly experiencing the traumas of war and the casualties that come with it.
ML: How do you hope to impact the people, and how do you expect to be affected?
Melanie: The main way I am hoping to impact the people of Syria is by bringing the patient love of our Messiah. I hope to hold their wounded, listen to their stories, and help bear their burdens in the practical opportunities that arise.
I feel very small, and recognize that there is an impossible amount of work ahead of my team and me. I am excited because the God that I serve is the same God who caused Goliath to fall at the hand of David, and I am convinced that he has a plan and a purpose for sending me to Syria.
It is a challenging thing to go into the middle of another country’s war. I have chosen to go to a difficult location, and I know that I will see many difficult things. I expect to be affected by the conflict, to feel sorrow, grief, and pain from what I see. Equally, I expect to experience the chesed love of our God and be changed by it. He is fiercely devoted to his people, and he—more than I!!!—longs for his day of recompense and justice in the earth. I expect that I will also grow in reverence, love, and devotion to my Maker as I see his beauty amidst the ashes around me.
ML: How can people contribute to your work and offer you support?
Melanie: There are two main ways to contribute to this work.
First, pray for Syria, pray for its people and those who are working there. Remember my team and me specifically in your prayers, and pray that the Lord would open a wide door for effective service in the region (1 Corinthians 16:9).
Second, consider financially supporting this work. Interested readers can visit https://www.givesendgo.com/GIZA to support me personally, or visit https://fairelief.org/support/ to support the relief efforts of FAI.
If you would like to connect with me, please click here.