Refugee. For many, this label, devoid of identity, brings to mind the words “nobody” “foreigner” or “intruder.” It’s easy to conjure up these stereotypes because we are so far removed from them and their bleak situation. We aren’t faced with the horrors of war. Our last hope for safety doesn’t lie in the hands of human smugglers. We don’t have to stand at a country’s border begging for a visa. This is reality in the life of a refugee. Hopeless. Grim. Strenuous.
Earlier this summer, I had the life changing experience of meeting refugees. We didn’t go in guns blazing throwing around Arabic Bibles like confetti. Our mission was simple. Meet needs, make disciples, and mobilize laborers. Mostly, we played with kids, shared meals together and listened to stories of their rigorous pilgrimage. Miraculously, this is the thing they needed most; to be heard. When people know their stories are being heard and met with compassion, their desperation for healing invites us into their deepest places of suffering.
The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch and still do nothing.
Many I met spoke of “the old life.” Before the war, their lives looked a lot like ours, routine based, safe, even enjoyable. When the media bombards us with horrific stories on the refugee crisis, the key point they miss is that refugees are people just like us. They have families, hobbies, and unique stories. They aren’t terrorists, nor are they greedy people just trying to get in on the American Dream. Their tired eyes and forlorn gazes screamed their desires loud and clear: They just want to live. They want to trade in their tents for a real home. They want to cook their own meals instead of having to rely on prepackaged government rations. All in all, they want a better life. Without changing their immediate circumstances, Jesus gave us the opportunity and command to be able to give them the best life- a life with Him.
This humanitarian crisis sweeping across the Middle East and Europe was foreseen and ordained by the hand of God. He has brought eternal beauty out of the rubble of war. He has transformed the hearts of devoted Muslim leaders. He has sent dreams of Jesus or “the man in white” to Muslims night after night, slowly softening hearts of stone into pliable clay. None of this was by accident. The day He breathed life into existence, God had each soul in His mind. When Jesus breathed His last, He has ISIS in mind just as He had each one of us in mind. Our prayer for this irreplaceable hour is for Jesus to win more Muslim hearts than ever in the history of Islam.
Though most of us don’t face the extreme circumstances that refugees do, in a way, we are all refugees. After all, this world was never meant to be our eternal home. As Christians, we are not citizens of this world trying to get into heaven, rather, we are citizens of heaven, making the best of our time here on earth. Jesus’ goal wasn’t for us to have a glorious, fun-filled life during our time in this world, it was to serve Him and share the hope we have for eternal life on the golden streets of Heaven. We look forward to that great day with eager anticipation, but praise God for the ways He has orchestrated our existence here on earth.
If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.
Lord I pray that you keep Your sovereign hand over Europe. I ask boldly that you will continue to radically pursue the hearts of Muslims and Europeans alike. Thank you for choosing me to be a small part of this larger movement. I pray that you will break our hearts for what breaks yours and prompt us to follow your command to GO. I ask for boldness, hope, and your love to shine out of us as we penetrate through the darkness of this world. Thank you God for what You are doing. We are your humble servants Jesus.