By Dan Wooding in Amman, Jordan
AMMAN, JORDAN (February 19, 2001) - Many of the sick and wounded who have fled across the border into Jordan following the latest Intifada (Uprising) in the West Bank, are being helped by a unique ministry based in Amman, Jordan.
Isam Ghattas, founder of Manara -- it means Lighthouse -- Ministries, which he founded 21 years ago, said that before the Intifada, the situation in Jordan was "difficult" but now it is "critical" with 30 percent of the population being unemployed and a price increase of 75 percent being placed on all items, including basic foodstuffs such as bread.
"The situation has worsened with the recent Intifada of the West Bank," said Ghattas in his office in Amman. "Many of the sick and wounded are coming into Jordan for treatment. The economic situation seems unstable and the future is uncertain. It is a vital time to love the needy. We feel privileged to be alive at this time in history.
"The needs of our people are facing are urgent, and the task is demanding. Based on Hebrews 13:16, Manara has launched a series of new projects to help the Jordanian and the recent refugees who have come here. We have a heartfelt burden to reach out to the hungry, hurting, and the poor with a message of compassion, while simultaneously providing for the essential needs of the body and the soul."
Isam Ghattas, who worked for 27 years with Operation Mobilization, explained that are also refugees from Iraq now living in Jordan and help is being given to them also.
Ghattas said that one of the new Manara projects is called "Feed a Family," which provides 500 needy Christian Families (Jordanian, Palestinian and Iraqi "with the gift of food." He added, "We give them each a package which contains $45.00 (US) worth of basic foodstuffs including sugar, rice, powder milk, tea, canned meats, beans and other dried foods."
Another aid program is called "Medical Assistance," and will help with urgent hospital operation costs as well as for medication. "The assistance has been given in years passed but there is now an increase of need in this area," he said.
Ghattas said that "Fan the Flame" was established to help families during the cold Jordanian nights. "Winters here can bring extremely cold weather, especially at night," he said. "The most fortunate ones rely on small kerosene heaters. This part of the relief project will provide a gas heater for 50 families and will help them face the bitter cold of poorly insulated homes."
Children, he said, are being helped with "Warm a Child," which provides a blanket for a child. "A good heavy blanket can make a lot of difference in a little child's world," said Ghattas.
Through "Share a Coat," he went on, the ministry will be providing 160 coats, 160 jackets, 80 pairs of trousers, 80 shirts, and 80 sweaters," to needy people in Jordan.
To make sure that the spiritual is not neglected, Manara co-workers having begun visits to needy people in which they have been given Bibles, children's books and audiocassettes.
"We want to make sure that we make the 'light of the Gospel' shine as a lighthouse in Jordan during these troubled times," Ghattas concluded.