Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Living Among Refugees: Are We Willing to Love These People?

Living Among RefugeesA missionary living in the Middle East
The Call, July-September 2016

How would you feel if your homeland was so torn apart by violence and war that you were forced to leave? Images of your hometown play on the news, showing injured neighbors and obliterated buildings. What kind of future could you possibly build for your family when you have lost everything? 

Yemen, Iraq, Syria—this is reality for many in the Middle East. My own family evacuated our city in a country in turmoil when a colleague was killed. When we moved to the country where we live now, we unknowingly rented an apartment that is in the midst of Iraqis who fled the war in their own homeland. 

We have a unique connection point with our neighbors because we understand, to a lesser extent, the trauma of having to leave your home suddenly. We understand seeing pictures of streets where our family once walked that are now filled with trash and destroyed homes. 

In my present role, I get to work with teams located throughout the Middle East. I get to help individuals and families get ready for ministry in this region. Historically, we’ve seen that after societal upheaval like a war, there’s a period of spiritual openness. We want to be ready to move in with the message of Jesus Christ. And here’s the good news: in the middle of the awfulness of the wars here, God is moving! 

People in these countries are seeing the horror wrought by “defenders” of their religion. They are questioning their own belief systems. They are reaching out, looking for some measure of hope. As refugees flee, it’s often believers—both local and those sending support from foreign countries—who respond with aid, care, and love. 

I know this is a difficult issue, but here’s where I land: while we were yet sinners, Jesus laid down His life for us. Are we willing to lay down our own lives for others? Are we willing to love these people?

GO: Our church has a center that helps refugees develop their English, computer, and other skills. Volunteers are always welcome to come short term and teach. Contact Kristina Gleason,volunteer coordinator, at 765.671.7227 or email via@wgm.org for more information. 

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