Dear Jesus, I Don’t Understand Bombs and Refugees

{By Amy Breitmann}

 

I don’t know where to start or what to say about all the pain that is swirling.

 

I have only seen children who sleep as refugees and the pain in Paris on the thin screen of my television.  And although I have held the hand of a girl who smiled big on a pile of rocks in Haiti and have seen all kinds of loss and grief in my life, I have no measuring stick for the terrorist attacks and refugees and politics that are swirling.

 

I can’t understand it all and I won’t pretend that I do.  I can’t know the wandering and the not-knowing, the death right there splattered red. The only thing I knew to do with all my feelings was to write to Jesus:

 

Dear Jesus,

 

Jesus there are some things that just downright don’t make sense. If I’m honest, I have to fight back anger and deep sadness some days.  What I have seen up close and scrolling across the screens from oceans away makes me scared and doubtful.  And as if I don’t have a voice.  But you didn’t create me with a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, and love.”  (2Tim 1:7) And so if I am going to speak, let it be to you first.

 

When I look inside my own heart, around the rooms between these four walls of my home, across the street, or onto my television screen to the refugees and the terrorist and the loss?

 

There is so very much to grieve.  So much injustice and so many questions swirling.

 

refugee3

Refugee father whose family was targeted for being a Christian

 

With all our technology we see so much more now.  Maybe we see more of a glimpse of what you do, in some ways, Jesus.  Because the whole world seems smaller and more like we belong to each other and that we can’t turn away, even if we tried.  There is no way to block our eyes and most days there is also no way to hear your still small voice because opinions shout loud.  States are turning red on maps, lines are drawn, we reduce people to politics, everyone has a side and a saying, and the whole world spins on crazy out of control.

 

It used to be that we lived in a small circle of our own fear. But now we don’t have to wait for a morning paper to read the headlines of hate or try to process the triggers for anxiety and the  fuel that tries  to make our souls restless.  We have built walls and weapons, and platforms. Our own pride trips us from really seeing.

 

And I want to see how you see all this.

 

I don’t know how you want me to help. But I know that you are counting on me in some way. So, Jesus, this morning I got small and quiet and I turned to the only place I know to look to for the real story.  I read your words about the homeless, the outcasts, the marked, the exiled.  I read your refugee story, and how no one had room for you. I read about how love came anyway, small and unassuming and perfect.

 

I began to remember again about this upside-down faith that you call me to. In Hebrews you say that faith in you promises that we can “be sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”

 

It sounds like crazy talk, you know?  Because we cannot see right now.

 

And still you ask us to be certain when we don’t see peace, security, safety, or solutions.

 

You ask us to be sure, to be confident, and to be courageous.  You ask us to love those that we hate and include those that don’t belong and to lay down our own lives.  You ask us to pick up a cross.  You ask us to give away the kind of radical grace that we can hardly even claim for ourselves. It quivers in our own hands, undeserving, but you beg us to give it away to others, multiplying.

 

You remind us that even death does not win a war.

 

cross cindee re snider

 

This morning, in the quiet I remembered that there was thief on the cross and a woman at the well and  that your promise was the same grace-filled one you give to me.

 

You climbed on a cross to bleed red for all of us and it was a radical, crazy, outrageous love.

 

Love won that day.  And it has every day since.

 

There is evil and that has been here all along.

 

But we belong to each other and the truth is that you became a refugee to set me free.

 

But down here fear can multiply until we are all spiritual refugees looking for a safe place, searching for peace.  But maybe bombs and boats of homeless people should blow up something in all of us.  Maybe it is meant to remind us that we belong to each other. And to remind us that we can direct our arrows at each other and at our enemies, but the simple truth is that you told us pretty plain to love them all. And whichever way we point the weapons, the enemy is the same. There is only one.  And evil does not crush hope or love. You told us so.

 

Is that what you want us to know, Jesus? Are these the words you want us to remember?

 

Because when I got small and quiet today in a world gone crazy your words made a radical kind of sense to me.   And when I go back out there into trying to be part of fixing all the pain in some small way with my one small life,  I’m going to try to keep choosing love over and over.

 

Because we are all in this together.

 

One of your beloved daughters,

 

Amy

 

 

{Photo credit: refugee-David Rupert, cross-Cindee Snider Re}

 

_________________________________________________

 

Amy 1Amy Breitmann’s name means “Beloved” and she’s on a quest to believe it. Her boots carry Midwest soil but now she kicks it up in the south where she weaves marriage, ministry and motherhood together. Though she’s been a Christian as far as she can remember, her boots are covered with mud from her wanderings. She’s Vice President of Marketing for Vi Bella Jewelry  and Co-Founder of The Lydia Project, a ministry which holds hands with other women facing cancer as a cancer survivor her self.  She also is a lost-sock finder, a keeper of secrets for the best cheesecake recipe, and gets grace in the ordinary. The words that tumble out on her blog Beloved in Blue Jeans are balm that the Spirit speaks to quiet her soul. She loves others to eavesdrop there and walk a bit of this cobbled path with her. She’s a Co-Visionary with Tammy, Facebook Team Editor, Big-Dreamer, and Writer. Find her on Facebook  or Twitter.

 

Advertisements

Christian Refugees & How You Can Be Part of Their Story (1st Hand Accounts by David Rupert)

{By David Rupert}

 

I looked at the flight path in a straight line over the Middle East right into Jordan, which some have called the “nice country with some very bad neighbors.”

 

I was following a prompting, an urgent and clear voice of God to go. Still, the doubts swirled. What am I doing here?

 

I needed to remind myself that it was God’s story I was following, that I needed to be his scribe. I had heard about those in this country who were outside the city gate—literally.

 

We all have heard the stories of Christians threatened by ISIS, displaced because of persecution starting in 2014. But where are they now? I wanted to find them, look into their eyes and remind them that they are not alone.

 

As a writer, it’s hard not to think ahead about plot lines and the twists that lead to the explosive ending. I wanted to develop a lead and an outline before I even boarded an airplane. I wanted to write the story and just fill in the blanks along the way. But I committed to sit back and let God write the story, to prepare the steps and the people along the way.

 

And He did.

 

refugee praying

 

I met with more than twenty families who had immigrated from Syria and Iraq. They were Christian families and Muslim families, both equally impacted by displacement. Hands trembling, I tapped out the translated tales and often found myself squeezing away the tears so I could do my job.

 

I became exhausted with the burden of sharing in their suffering and the hours of listening, interpreting, and then scribing. And yet, I was energized by the faith of these people.

 

I came away from this experience with a profound and deep understanding of a world turned upside down and innocent people impacted by man’s depravity. My faith found a deeper well, spurred by wounded men and women who haven’t given up on God.

 

 

The stories are real

 

refugee house box

The refugees I met are not the ones you see on television right now skirting the borders of European nations. These are primarily Christians who have been oppressed and ostracized, forced to disperse and survive on their own, without assistance.

 

I’ve been able to share a few stories already, like this one: Family of five: We pray for ISIS, where the mother of three children prays for those who displaced her family from their home in Iraq, even though they live in a cargo box waiting for U.N. resolution.

 

This story, Nowhere to go: Refugee families escaped persecution, but cannot escape captivity, describes the unbelievably “stuck” position many of these refugees face. They cannot go home. They cannot work, due to government restriction, and so they wait on a distant hope of immigration.

 

And I interviewed a woman, also forced from her home in Syria, who gave birth to a daughter. She gave her the name “Sham,” which means “Damascus.” The reason? “So whenever I look in her face, I think of home.”

 

refugeee albertAnd then there was Albert, who left his business in Aleppo, Syria, because of the escalation of hostilities. His 11 year-old son, fully understanding his family’s plight, who still smiled his way into my heart. My article, This Syrian family is looking for home, helps put human faces to war.

 

For Basaam Jacob , the straw that broke the camel’s back for his family’s departure from Bagdad was a masked man threatening his family.

 

And I was especially touched when I visited this church in a town that is changing because of the faith of refugees. For centuries there has been a very muted Christian witness – but that’s changing.

 

 

What’s next?

 

refugee girls

There are many other stories that I still need to share. There’s one about a family whose home was painted with the symbol of the Nazarene who left their home, their belongings, their town—fearing for their lives.

 

They’ve never regretted standing for their Savior. “Not even once,” said Nineveh, the young mother.

 

And there’s the story about a man who served time in a Syrian prison for crimes he DID commit. There, he met Jesus and then later, his brother found the same Savior. Together, they’re helping lead a home church with other displaced Syrians.

 

And I grew to cherish the heart of one man who learned of the death of his father through a YouTube video, in which his father was killed by Syrian terrorists. He is working on overcoming his thoughts of revenge and is leading his family toward a life of surrender.

 

I watched him, and others I interviewed, dip his soul in surrender through baptism in the Jordan River—yes, the same one that our Lord first bowed in surrender, himself.

 

 

What should we do?

 

I didn’t do all of this to write a few emotional articles or to produce collected words for some to skim. I hope to help spur a conversation, that these stories will fall in the right hands of people who can make changes to help these people. I also want the church to come to the aid of our brothers and sisters who have suffered for the sake of the Cross.

 

The refugee crisis can be overwhelming. It’s so deep you might simply throw your hands up because it’s too big, too broad for one person to do anything.

 

But let me help. The Apostle Paul said this:

 

“So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, but especially to those who are of the household of faith.”(Gal 6.10)

 

These brothers and sisters stood up for their faith under the threat of death. As a body of believers, we need to rush to their side, to let them know we support them, that we pray for them, and that we are united with them in spirit and soul.

 

Outside the city gates doesn’t mean that they have to suffer alone.

 

 

Ways You Can Be Part of Their Story

 

I have found a group of people who are working with Christian refugees, Team Expansion. They give aid, but they also provide discipleship and a solid message of faith to believer and nonbeliever alike. Many non believers have found their way to truth because of the love given by these people.

 

You can also give online here. Under Missionary/Project Name, “Madaba – Refugee Fund”.

 

Checks go to:

Team Expansion

POB 91294

Louisville, KY 4029

Memo line: “Refugee Fund.”

 

I would also encourage you to become a regular supporter of these people who are working every day on behalf of the gospel for the sake of Syrian and Iraqi refugees. I’ve seen how they use money and how they live, and I’m a believer that this is a worthy cause. Give here and enter the missionary name “Nance.”

 

 

{Thank you for your support, your prayers, and your ongoing encouragement for #RefugeeStories.}

 

_________________________________________________

 

David2David Rupert on any given weekend can be found wandering the Rockies, fly-rod in hand, and trying to figure it out. He may be a communications professional and writer for a government organization by day, but by night, he’s taking seriously the call to encourage the Body. Spurring another to share their gifts, is a passion of his. He especially points to Christ’s words on his blog called Red Letter Believers and continues to reach others through his many publications in magazine articles. While he has his hands full, he is also the community editor at The High Calling, and adding to the list, his new book set to release in June 2014 is called  Disconnected: How to Turn Around Every Broken Relationship.  While yet another book, Make a Difference: Growth in Leadership, and many more writings by him can be found here as he continues to seek out more ways to encourage others.

 

 

 

%d bloggers like this: