A month or two ago I happened across an spy/thriller/mystery style book. I read it and enjoyed it with only a few reservations, so I chose another from the series to read, and then another.
The third had a main character who was Syrian…a child of Hama whose city and family had been destroyed when she was a girl.
The story itself was fictional, but it led me on a short journey that was long enough to learn that the destruction of Hama and the diaspora (scattering outside of their homeland) of the Syrian people was very real. It was only days later that the BBC news began reporting on the ever-rising increase of refugees from Syria and other countries.
Coincidence? Not to me.
340,000 refugees so far this year at EU borders.
34,000 in Hungary.
50,000 arrived in Greece in July alone.
100,000 across the Mediterranean.
500,000 Iraqis were displaced by ISIS in a matter of weeks.
60,000 have already come all the way from Afghanistan.
Tens of thousands from Africa.
7.6 million Syrians are homeless inside their own country because of the terrible civil war going on. 4 million more have been taken in by Syria’s Middle Eastern neighbors, and another 100,000 are in Europe already.
And every single one of these refugees has a name. A story. Hopes and fears. Family lost in one way or another.
I think God led me to that book so that I would begin seeking Him about His perspective on this whole issue before the media began to influence my thinking… for indeed, with each day that passes, the media shares more and more… and more and more of the world gets involved in the eternal blame game.
I would like to share one small bit of the perspective that God has given me, though.
We all assume that the majority of the refugees are Muslim. Correct?
Tell me this… while those millions of Muslims were in their homelands, what kinds of opportunities have Christians had to show them the love of Jesus?
Seriously? What could we do?
I read an article on the BBC news that talked about why so many were fleeing to Europe instead of other Muslim countries. The article recounts conversations like this:
“How did we flee from the region of our Muslim brethren, which should take more responsibility for us than a country they describe as infidels?” Another user replied: “I swear to the Almighty God, it’s the Arabs who are the infidels.”
Do you see it?
Now they are coming to us. In huge numbers.
I think God is asking us how we are going to meet them.
There is a verse from the Bible that I have held close to my heart for years… wondering what it means… what the fulfillment will look like. I honestly have no idea if the Syrian diaspora has anything to do with this or not… but I still marvel at the love shown in this verse for the Syrian people by the God who called Himself the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob… even though these people are not the descendants of Isaac and Jacob. This is from Isaiah 19:
24 In that day Israel will be the third party with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth, 25 whom the LORD of hosts has blessed, saying, “Blessed is Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel My inheritance.”
I don’t understand exactly what God is saying about the Syrians here or what it is going to look like when the prophecy is fulfilled. But I understand that He said He would bless them and claim them.
These people are fleeing destruction and death at the hands of their own religion… and they are fleeing to nations where it is still legal for Christians to reach out to them and love them and help them. So far, the news speaks very little of them coming to the US, but that, I believe is about to change very quickly.
What is the response of Americans going to be?
Hungarians gather at the borders chanting, “Refugees welcome.” (video here, see the 2:30 mark)
Greek volunteers – themselves struggling in the midst of the Greek financial crisis – are meeting refugees on the beaches with food and water, to help them over the miles they must walk to get to the abandoned hotels that are the only shelter available. (Meet “Papa Stratis” who with his network of volunteers, “Village All Together”, are often taking on the sole responsibility of caring for the refugees on the Greek islands.)
More than 11,000 Icelanders have signed a petition, each one signing their willingness to open their own home to Syrian refugees, if only their government will permit them to come. (Read the story)
What will Americans do? Those of us who live beyond a particular statue that calls:
I totally understand that there may be radical Islamist extremists hiding among them and trying to get into my country and others to do harm. I’m thankful that there are those whose job it is to guard against that and protect us, and I pray that God will give them the supernatural ability to locate and handle those extremists who try to come for evil purposes.
But I will not allow that fear to overcome the love that I feel from the Father’s heart for these people. I believe that the love of God is more powerful than the hatred of Muslim extremists. If I did not believe this, then perhaps I might be excused for fearing who might come.
What about you?
If you’re not sure, perhaps this article will encourage you.
Even if you do know what you think, still read it.
Me… I’m not afraid. I have no desire to force my religion on them or tell them their religion is wrong. I just want to show them that an ‘infidel’ can love. And if they ask and want to know more about Jesus, I’ll be happy to tell them. And if they don’t, I’ll still love them!
Quite frankly, I’m really hoping some Syrian refugees come to my town, and I know about it, so that I can help them to make a home here in any way I can… these people whom my God said would be a blessing in the midst of the earth!
If you are willing to do something now to help, the lovely Ann Voskamp just posted 5-ways-to-stand-up-be-the-church-in-the-worlds-worst-refugee-crisis-since-world-war-ii/.