Help the People Who Are Helping Refugees

It’s easy to mask human faces behind numbers.
To forget that numbers are but a reflection of people and their stories.

And I get it, I do it all the time.

I hear of 35 million infected with HIV across the world.
Of at least 21 million people in some sort of slavery today.
Of over 30 million legal abortions worldwide each year.

And though they temporarily make me cringe, I’ve often grown numb to the human side of the equation.

That’s 35 million men and women suffering a horrific disease.
21 million living in dreadful circumstances, without any hope.
30 million children given no chance to even take their first breath.

This week I’ve seen plenty of numbers floating around having to do with Syria and the effects of the complex civil war still raging there.

The Zaatari Refugee Camp in Jordan, housing an estimated 83,000 people.
Photo by: The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office

12 million Syrians have fled their homes during the the conflict.
More than 4 million refugees have left the country as a result. 

Half of the refugees are children.

Desperate mothers who long for the safety of their children.
Boys who have lost siblings to disease or battle.
Girls who have been forced to grow up too quickly.

Yet, in the wake of a horrific attack on the streets of Paris, fear (the primary tactic of terrorists) has gripped the hearts of many Americans. Leaving us to wonder how involved we really wish to be in the lives of international victims of war. 

It’s tempting to largely ignore the crisis and let the headlines slowly fade back into stories of sports and celebrity gossip over the next few weeks. For some, it’s tempting to even speak directly against doing anything at all for fear of an attack on US ground.

Send them back where they came from.
Not our land, not our problem.

But these are real people. Millions of them.

And I’d bet if we were to sit down with a family forced from their home, currently living the best they can inside an overcrowded camp, we’d find they are not too different from you and I. They need safety, care, and hope. They are desperate, fleeing a situation I can’t even begin to empathize towards. A type of war I have no concept of, because I’ve lived inside the safety of the US border for 21 years.

A place where the biggest conflict I face is whether I’m going to eat Moes or Chipotle for dinner, or which Netflix show I’m going to binge on next.

As a Christian I’m even further convinced we cannot let these people simply pass by unnoticed. Jesus wouldn’t. 

I can’t imagine Jesus gazing into the eyes of a Syrian child and commanding her to return to the war-torn homeland which she came from. Or briefly glancing at the single dad trying to keep his kids alive and covering his eyes as if he saw nothing.

Let’s not forget that we (Christians) have been ransomed at a great price. Jesus has rescued us from a land of desperation and hopelessness into life with his Father forever. He has commissioned us to love, because he first loved us. To make disciples of all nations.

President Obama and his administration have agreed to bring in 10,000 Syrians in the next year, with the hope of somewhere near 100,000 in the next few years. A small fraction of the total, but a move in the right direction for a country that has accepted just 1,500 in 2014. The United States has also allotted almost 3 billion dollars in humanitarian aid since the conflict began.

Many organizations are doing really incredible work on the ground to help people too. My favorite is World Vision, they have a great overview of the situation here, but there are others.

I don’t know the answer to ISIS or war or political conflicts, I doubt anyone really does. But the best place I know to start is supporting the people on the ground. I want to help the people who are helping people.

I hope you do too.


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