Syrian men, women and children, refugees impacted by the civil war that has raged for four years in their country, lined the cold stairwell leading to a registration room where Korean doctors waited to attend them. Some had come from miles away to receive medical care from the team, members of a South Korean Baptist church holding their first clinic in the Middle East.
The team spent one day in Zaatari, Jordan’s largest refugee camp, and two days at a local clinic.
A pediatrician from a South Korean Baptist church examines a Syrian girl's leg at Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan. The team spent three days offering free medical care to hundreds of refugees.
The need for a medical clinic first became apparent to the Korean Baptists last year, when their church donated caravans for Zaatari refugees to use as housing. The volunteers were struck by the sheer number of refugees, none of whom appear to have access to regular medical care in Jordan.
The doctors – two dentists, two internists, a general surgeon and a pediatrician – utilized their specific skills to meet a wide range of medical needs. During the course of three days last month, they saw more than 700 refugees.
Joseph Kim, team leader, said Koreans have a special love for victims of civil war. Many members of the team grew up in the aftermath of the Korean War that tore the country apart in the 1950s. Their country has since grown into a fully-developed nation, and they said they want to show Syrians that Syria can do the same.
The pediatrician on the trip said he sees Korea’s development as a blessing from God and feels a sense of responsibility to bless the refugees in turn. God’s blessings, he said, are not meant to be kept to one’s self.
“If you just keep all your blessings inside yourself, it’s going to become like [the] Dead Sea,” he said. The Jordan River flows into the Dead Sea, which borders Jordan and Israel, but the sea has no outlet. Its waters have a high concentration of minerals, and virtually nothing can live there.
Refugees appeared to respond positively to the Korean doctors. The team’s pediatrician hopes this clinic will be the first of many. He encourages other doctors, both Koreans and Westerners, to consider short-term trips like this one, and would love to see doctors come for a couple of years at a time.
He warns against thinking the Syrian crisis is almost over, predicting that the effects will carry on for years, even after the war officially ends. He urges people not to keep waiting for the “right moment,” but to act now.
“Today is the time,” he said. “This is the place.”
Pray that doctors and other believers worldwide will respond in helpful ways to the Syrian crisis.
Pray the South Korean team’s church will be able to continue sending medical volunteers to work among Syrian refugees.
Ask God to provide doctors willing to work among refugees for a couple of years at a time.
For information about helping assist Syrian refugees, visit Baptist Global Response.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Brian Andrews is a writer for the London Bureau of Baptist Press.)