I won’t pretend a blog post shared on Facebook carries a ridiculous amount of influence, but the truth is that I have a voice and I want to use it.
In case you’ve missed it, the Syrian city of Aleppo has become a hell on earth over the last few years as varying forces battle to take control of the city. The past few days have seen heavy escalation of fighting, and there have been hundreds of civilian deaths. I won’t get into the details or politics of it all because admittedly, I don’t know enough to comment on all of that. Just know this: what is happening in Aleppo is ugly and evil and people are dying.
No, I can’t tell you the specifics of the international relations within the mess that is Syria. But I can tell you this: this summer, I spent 5 weeks in Germany, hearing stories and meeting friends in various refugee camps. So many of the kind and gracious people that I met were Syrian, forced to flee their homes in the face of unimaginable violence. Their heartbreaking stories are hard to forget. But even harder to forget is their strength, their generosity, and their stubborn hope.
As I sit here, reading the news from the battleground that is Aleppo, stomach turning, one face stands out. A beautiful, bright, 9 year old girl that I spent an afternoon laughing with at one of the camps this past July. Let’s call her S. She and her family had fled from their life in Aleppo earlier in the year.
I can tell you she was wearing a dress with purple flowers, and that we ran around together and played volleyball for a few hours. I can tell you that through some beautiful act of hope and resilience, little S was brimming with laughter and couldn’t stop smiling. I can tell you she had a butterfly painted on her hand.
I can tell you she’s just a child – no different than us, than our children – who by the grace of God was able to escape her city, her home. Her home, where in just one day this week at least 13 innocent children have been killed, and possibly more than 100 children were trapped beneath a collapsed building under heavy attack.
These are hard pills to swallow. We see the headlines, the heartbreaking news stories, and we almost have to distance ourselves, to compartmentalize it all as “someone else’s problem.” We tell ourselves that someone else will help, that there’s nothing we can do.
Friends, we have to stop feeding ourselves those lies. This crisis is not a distant problem, affecting a faceless group of people somewhere far away. These are human beings, our brothers and sisters – and we have to stop looking away. We have to stop looking away.
I think of my friend S and her smile and her dress and the butterfly on her hand and I praise God that she is safe in Germany – but there are so many just like her who are not.
Here’s the thing we must realize: Aleppo, and Mosul, and Raqqa, and all of these broken and hurting cities across Syria, Iraq, and beyond are not hopeless. They are not helpless.
In the face of unimaginable tragedy and evil, we ask ourselves “what could I even do?” and too often end up doing nothing. But the good news is this: there’s a lot to do, if we’re willing.
You, person reading this, can help. And I really hope that you do. Even if you’re a poor college kid stressed about finals, there’s something you can do. Even if you’re someone who knows nothing about what’s happening in the Middle East, there’s something you can do. This last part I’ll borrow from Ann Voskamp’s post because she presents it perfectly:
We can look you, the kids of Aleppo, in the eyes right now and do just these 3 things:
1. Donate to Relief Efforts:
2. Support Global Refugee Efforts:
If we say that we stand with Christ — now is the time to stand with the fleeing.
Because the Christ Child who came to this pale blue marble in the cosmos, He was the Child who knew violence and fleeing, who knew bloodshed and bodies of children laying in the streets, and how can we celebrate Christmas and not stand with the refugee — because that is exactly what Jesus was?
Now is the time, the world needs you to stand as one of the 10,000 people needed to take a stand with the refugee by January 20, 2017 —
3. and be one of the ones who Welcome, Jesus, the Refugee:
Welcome/sponsor a fleeing refugee family in the United States
How but for the grace of God go I — go all of us?
Our children are breaking in Aleppo and there isn’t one of our hearts that shouldn’t be breaking too.
So please, take a minute to not just be shocked or scared or saddened, but to be the hands and feet of our King. To pray. As in actual-get-down-on-your-knees-right-now and pray for an outpouring of His mercy, His peace, His rescue and comfort and strength in Aleppo and beyond. We need Jesus. The world needs Jesus. This is the season of celebrating our Savior’s coming, celebrating that He is Emmanuel, God with us. He is a King that came to us, as a baby in a manger, to be a rescuer and redeemer – so let’s pray for rescue and redemption. What a perfect time it is to love and give a little more, because He loved and gave it all first.
There is so much to be done. We cannot do it all, but we can do something. So please, take a minute, and do something.