Saturday, September 14, 2013

Beautiful on the Outside...

This past week, I was in the Middle East visiting some BGR projects that were helping Syrian refugees with basic food items, hygiene supplies and medicines. There are now maybe close to 2 million Syrians who have left their country seeking safe refuge for their families. While there are several in a few large refugee camps, the majority are living wherever they can find or put up temporary shelter.

On the first day, we went to deliver some food and hygiene packages to several families. I thought the first place we pulled up to was a mistake. It was a three-storied beautiful mansion. I chuckled to myself thinking that the local partner had taken a wrong turn. However, as we stopped, a stream of children and a few adults poured out of the house. Upon closer inspection, I saw that the house was only a shell: beautiful on the outside but pretty much empty and bare on the inside.

It was very much unfinished and four Syrian families had worked out a deal with the homeowner to stay there and guard the place as well as take care of the grounds. There was no electricity, water and the whole inside was unfinished concrete. Nevertheless, the families had each chosen a room apiece and turned it into their makeshift home.

This is a great parallel to everything we saw last week during the trip. Many communities look good on the outside, from the road as we drive by. But all you have to do is stop and look a bit closer.

You find family after family that has had to flee their homes. They are living in unused houses, abandoned sheds, garages, and even makeshift tents. They are living basically anywhere they can find relatively safe shelter. And on the outside, they look like they are okay. But on the inside, they are broken, afraid, hungry and sick.

They want to go home but they cannot. They want their children to go to school but it is not possible. All of them have family and friends who are still in Syria and they wonder what has happened to them.

I thought as we were leaving, am I sometimes like this? Beautiful on the outside. Everything seems great in my life, no problems, smooth sailing...But on the inside, there really is an unseen struggle, conflict and heartache.

Jesus called the religious leaders of his days, "whitewashed tombs." I pray that my heart will always be moved for those in need like the ones visited last week...

Thursday, September 5, 2013

A Prayer From Partners in Syria

I am on my way home, finishing up a trip where I've been visiting our relief projects with Syrian refugees. I am overwhelmed by the needs that we saw on this trip and amazed at the courage and boldness of our partners who are distributing food, medicines, and making their faith known in word and in deed.

As I go home, I can retreat to the safety and comfort of my house. However, the people I leave still are dealing with the fact that they cannot go home. Over 5 million people have been displaced by this terrible tragedy. Two million have fled the country while at least 3 million are displaced in country. The numbers stagger the imagination.

As we were meeting with communities living in exile and watching our partners give food and hope to so many, I heard one of our partners make this prayer request....

"Pray that the believers here will stand fast in the face of persecution. We are like the three who were in the fire but not consumed. It is like we have chains around us, trying to cripple us. But God wants to break those chains. The chains are fear that constrict us. But our vision is that when this war is over, we can all go back and help rebuild our people and share God's love."

Please pray for peace in Syria. Please pray that God would use His faithful servants to help bring healing and the message of hope to so many in need.