Don't Close Your Eyes
Are you moved when you consider this sea of refugees in Syria clamoring for space as they wait desperately for food at a humanitarian distribution point?
How about the news of the 33 Christians that were executed in North Korea last week simply for their faith in Jesus... does that bring a tear to your eyes, or at least stop and make you think?
Suffering, war, famine, natural disasters and persecution are claiming countless lives all around the world. Spending the last few months in Australia has reminded me of how distant some of these realities can seem in a place so "lucky", so blessed!
Desperate displaced families, refugees and asylum seekers become the living casualties of such tragic events and you and I can often seem helpless to respond. Does that mean we simple do nothing? Can we really close our eyes to these innocent victims be-it from natural disaster or ruthless and evil regimes.
I think of the many stories in the Bible about refugees, none ring more true than the time Jesus himself, a mere toddler at the time, fled with his parents to Egypt to escape the murderous campaign of the evil King Herod.
I'm also reminded of my dear friend and work-mate for many years, Alice, who sought asylum in the United States from her home country of Burundi. Many of her family died as a result of the genocide that gripped Burundi and neighboring Rwanda in 1994. More than 300,000 innocent people died in Burundi alone.
It always saddens me when politics enters the fray and the reality of human suffering is somehow lost in the discussion. The only people that stand to lose are the innocent men, women and children like my friend... like Jesus. They are denied the basic human rights to survive, while we drown out the images and the incovienient cries with our cooking or home makeover reality TV shows.
If you've read this far, you might be thinking I'm on a bit of an Amnesty International rant... It may sound that way, but I write this while looking at the photo above. I simply can't close my eyes. And neither should the church, the very people who call themselves Christians. In fact, it was Jesus who described the true people of God when he stated this in Matthew 25:
"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'm not writing to tell you what you must do, that is a question you must ask God yourself. But I plead with you this one request - don't close your eyes.
In Iraqi Kurdistan alone there are now over 250,000 [Syrian] refugees. There are also 250,000 Iraqis that have fled the violence in the last couple of years and 2,000 [members] of the Christian community who have fled to the region because of persecution.
Pray for the Kurdish Regional Government and NGO's like World Orphans that are in a position to respond to this humanitarian crisis in the Middle East.
Pray for your local government as they respond to the plight of refugees and asylum seekers. Pray for the immigration reform that is a major point of contention in the United States. Pray too for the Australian government as they deal with the great numbers of asylum seekers fleeing persecution or hardship to find freedom and a new start in the land Down Under.
And please, please pray for our family as we leave for Iraq in just 2 months to serve the people of Iraqi Kurdistan. It is estimated that over 65% of our home town are considered refugees, having fled violence in Iran, Turkey, Syria and Iraq. Pray that the hope of the Gospel will shine brighter than ever before... and that the flicker of Christ's love will be fanned into a mighty flame in their hearts and in our new community.