Real life issues are complicated and delicate. Especially this one. There are different sides to consider, lots of opinions, and unfortunately those things can end up becoming a little explosive online. I know I’m not the only person who’s blocked someone for their politically charged rants on Facebook this year.
In truth, I’ve had a really hard time writing this post. It’s sat in my draft folder far longer than most do. I’d love to blame it on our intermittent internet, or the fact that we’ve been sick for three weeks straight, but I think it really has more to do with the sensitivity of the topic, and my inability to get the words out right, than anything else. Still…
I can’t stop thinking about the Syrian refugees.
I know just saying those words will evoke emotion – perhaps strong emotion – bringing to mind a whole host of issues that are well beyond my pay-grade to understand or defend.
But this is my reality.
When I’m rocking my baby to sleep in the quiet of the evening, or spending a few extra moments in the shower enjoying the warmth of clean water.
When I’m sitting in a doctors office with a feverish little boy, knowing he’ll be seen, knowing he’ll get well.
When I’m frustrated by any number of first world inconveniences, wearied with the stresses of my own life.
God has been gently reminding me of the refugees.
That there are mommas on the other side of the world barely surviving the horrors of a war that’s raged for far too long, hoping that someone – anyone – will help them protect and provide for their babies.
Mommas who can’t rock their children to sleep at night and tuck them into warm beds.
Mommas who can’t get their sick children well because there are no offices and few doctors left with the resources to do anything to help.
Mommas who would look at my life and think it fell down out of heaven itself.
It’s enough to make a grown woman weep, and I wonder what in the world this stay-at-home, homeschooling momma of three can do about it.
I know I’m not the only one.
The need is great.
Right now over 11 million Syrian people – half of them children – have been displaced from their homes. They are susceptible to malnutrition and disease, are vulnerable to sexual abuse and exploitation, and have witnessed unspeakable violence (World Vision).
Countries the world over are trying to figure out what they can do, what they should do, for the refugees. Relief organizations are sending workers to help distribute food, supplies, and aid. There has never been a greater refugee crisis in all of recorded history, and it’s happening right now, on our watch.
Despite it’s constant presence in the news, if we’re not careful, I think it’s possible for us to separate the humanity from the crisis. To put a little distance between our heads and our hearts so that we don’t feel so helpless, or allow ourselves to hurt so bad on their behalf. To help push the realization away that we’re not so different, and therefore not as protected from tragedy as we would like to think we are.
We must resist this kind of thinking at any and all costs.
Every refugee has a name. A story. A dream. A purpose all their own.
Just like you. Just like me.
Every refugee matters. Not because of where they live or what they can do, but because they are people, exquisitely created in the image of God.
People who are important just because they’re people.
We are not all called – or able – to leave our lives to work on the front lines in Syria, but we are all called to stop, take notice, and do what we can, where we can, to help. In the remainder of this post I’d like to suggest five ways to get involved in the Syrian refugee crisis.
Even though it’s big.
Even though our contribution may seem small.
When we lock hearts and link arms, our together can make a big difference.
5 Ways to Stand with Refugees
1 | Listen and learn
The Syrian Civil War has been raging for six years, but Syria itself has been in a state of emergency since the 1960s. Translation: This is not a new problem, nor will it be quickly solved.
Hold your opinions loosely and give yourself space to learn about what’s really going on. Listen to refugee’s stories and those truly informed on the situation. Take a moment to put yourself in a refugee’s shoes and consider what it would be like to walk around in them.
Listen. Learn. Then listen some more.
- Check out the FAQs and Resource page on WeWelcomeRefugees.com for help understanding a broad overview of the crisis.
- Read stories of real refugees in their own words.
2 | Speak up, speak out
There is enough hate, enough division, enough back-biting, enough bickering. It’s time to peacefully and respectfully raise our voices, drawing attention to those who need the most help in this time of crisis.
Here are a few simple, time-efficient ways to send a clear and respectful message to policy makers:
- Sign a solidarity statement to support refugees around the world.
- Use World Relief’s online tool to contact your national elected leaders.
- Spread awareness on social media using the hashtag #wewelcomerefugees.
3 | Give
Refugees need immediate relief – food, water, and shelter – but they also need sustainable solutions to start their lives over in a new country. Neighboring countries have borne the brunt financially and physically to welcome the stranger. We can help shoulder that responsibility by supporting their relief efforts.
If everyone contributes something, change is inevitable.
- WeWelcomeRefugees.com gives a brief overview of seven different organizations working across Europe, the Middle East, and even here at home, that are doing the hard work of providing both aid and development.
4 | Stand up, Show up
Not everyone is called to go overseas to help with the relief work, but there are plenty of volunteer opportunities and peaceful demonstrations happening in cities all around our country.
- Volunteer through a World Relief office or another agency in your area.
- Chicago natives may consider walking/running in the Willow 5K for refugees in May.
- Check with local municipalities for area demonstrations or events.
5 | Pray
Sometimes the simplest thing we can do is also the most important. Prayer matters. It makes a difference. We can stand with refuges by praying for them specifically and intelligently.
- The Syrian Circle offers suggestions for a month’s worth of daily prayer points.
“Not all of us can do great things.
But we can do small things with great love.”
– Mother Teresa
What we think about this issue – and what we choose to do about it – matters.
While it seems an impossible reality today, someday this crisis will be mended. Someday the refugee will wander no more and the Syrian people will again know peace. Someday our children and grandchildren will read about these days and the world’s response in their history books. Someday they will ask us what it was like, what we did, how we helped.
I want to be part of the peaceful narrative, the hopeful one, the helpful one. The one that chooses action over inaction, and compassion over all the sneaking secret forms of pride. I want to be on the side that honors Christ, extending His hands and feet to a hurting, broken world. I want to go the way of love.
Matthew 25:35-36 (NIV)
…For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me…