Refugees in Turkey are opening up to Christianity and dozens have already accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior, according to a ministry director.
"We have earned the trust of refugees, they just are very pleased to welcome us to their tents," said the Turkey-based ministry director, who won't be named for security reasons.
He told The Christian Post that such a welcome for non-Muslims would be rare under normal conditions, but those living in difficult circumstances at the camps are very glad to accept the help. The director works alongside Christian Aid Mission, a nonprofit foreign mission board that helps over 500 ministries overseas, including some in Turkey, which is hosting as many as 3 million Syrian refugees.
The ministry director said that refugees who see "God's love, care and compassion" at work experience a deep change. He said that in the past two years of working with refugees, he has seen more than 120 of them receive Jesus Christ as their Savior, with 20 of them getting baptized.
He and other ministry workers have also been seeing changes in how Muslims in the camps talk and think about Jesus, Christian Aid Mission reported earlier this month.
While Muslims use the words "Hazreti Isa" to refer to Jesus as a prophet of Islam, some of the refugees are starting to say "Jesus Christ" like Christians, and are beginning to open their minds to the Christian message.
"Praise God that seeds are beginning to take root," the director said. "In every tent, when we talk about Jesus, we are seeing this change when we translate. They say and use these words more often."
The ministry is trying to distribute as many Arabic Bibles as possible so that Muslims can read about Jesus' story.
Those who convert to Christianity, however, are forced to hide their faith from the Muslim population because they would be treated as infidels.
"Islam is not a religion of tolerance and love," the ministry director commented.
"They have to hide it from others and live their religion secretly," he said of converts to Christianity.
He emphasized that Christians should be prepared for such treatment, given that Jesus warned His followers 2,000 years ago that such things will come to pass.
There have been several stories documenting the conversion of Muslims to Christianity in refugee camps across Europe, with reports of new Christians being badly beaten for their decision on a number of occasions, such as incidents at a German camp in October 2015.
Turkey has been trying to accommodate a large number of refugees, many of them fleeing civil war and terrorism in Syria. The European Union announced a $393 million aid package -- the largest sum of money the EU has ever financed for humanitarian purposes -- last week to the U.N. World Food Program working there.
In a March deal to tackle the growing crisis, Turkey agreed to take back migrants in Greece who failed to successfully apply for asylum, and in return the European Union said it will resettle Syrian refugees in Turkey within its member states.
The Muslim majority nation has faced a number of big crises in recent months, from terror attacks to a failed coup against the government, which the ministry director said has made life even worse for the refugees.
"The situation is bleak for refugees in the country," he told CP.
The March agreement reduced the work of a number of aid organizations, but following the attempted coup there is concern that Turkey will fail to stop the influx of refugees to the EU, which could jeopardize the whole deal.
The ministry director in Turkey said that the refugees are in need of much help, from daily food to clean water, shelter, baby formula, diapers, and other necessities.
The ministry is also helping Syrian children at the camps learn Turkish, partly through the aid of Bible-based coloring books.
"When we go to the camps, they run to us and show the books they have read and the notebooks they have filled with pictures — this brings us joy, seeing these things used," he told CAM.
"They colored them all so beautifully and wanted to show them to me. In order to keep our promise, we gave chocolate to the children. And then we prayed for them in the name of Jesus and sent them off."
He said that the ministry helps around 8,000 refugees, and estimated that about 45 percent do not want to return to Syria, while the rest are open to returning as long as the various terror groups are driven out from the land.
There have been numerous attempted ceasefires in Syria, with the latest one having begun on Monday, but how long it will last and when long-term peace will return to the region is unknown.