This is a guest post by an IMB missionary currently serving in the field, who has elected to write anonymously for security reasons.
The war in Syria has trudged onward for over five years. Refugees have been affected since day-one. The debate about “what to do” really got heated up when refugees started pouring into Europe in 2014. Since then there has been much talk (and, unfortunately, little action) in regards to how to approach this refugee crisis. It has also become apparent that ISIS is using the desperate plight of these refugees (for which they share a large responsibility) to infiltrate Europe and other countries in an effort to spread their evil, jihadist beliefs. All of these factors (and more) make this a difficult conversation. As I sit here in my home, less than 100 meters from a Syrian family begging on the street and in the same city as thousands and thousands of other refugees, I see many things in the discussion to be discouraged by; but, praise the Lord, I also see many things to be encouraged by. I am guilty of many of these things, but by the grace of God, we can all learn how to discuss and act for His glory.
The 5 most encouraging things I see in the discussion amongst Christians concerning the refugee crisis from the eyes of a worker in the Middle East/Central Asia:
- Leaders are leading
Leaders in the SBC are speaking out, calling churches and christians to care for the sojourner, the refugee, the widow, the orphan, the brokenhearted. They are calling christians to remember that these refugees are created in the image of God. I am grateful for men like Russell Moore of the ERLC as he writes and speaks about the crisis, for David Platt of the IMB (my boss) as he calls SBC churches to be involved and as he leads us in the field to pray and work faithfully; for Ed Stetzer and Micah Fries of Lifeway research, who, along with many other leaders, helped form the Christian Declaration on Caring for Refugees. These leaders in the SBC are urging christians to have scripture be their guide and let the glory of God be their goal in acting for the great need of refugees. Even though they face opposition from politicians, the media, and even some pastors and Christians at times, these men are pressing forward.
- People are giving
We were given over $13,000 from Baptist Global Response so that we – along with local believers – could provide food, clothes, coal, bedding, diapers, and medical care for refugee families. This was done in conjunction with a local fellowship that is led by local believers here in our part of Central Asia. Most of the members of that same church are refugees, and these new believers have been the ones connecting us with their friends and neighbors and telling them that the church of Jesus Christ is providing for their needs. Multiple families have visited the church because of the generosity they have been shown. This is possible because God has used the faithful giving of the church in the states to organizations like BGR. Many other great organizations are doing wonderful things for the good of refugees and the glory of God. Please keep giving and thank you!
- Churches are coming
Yes, the world is on edge because of the terrorist attacks. Yes, the refugee crisis is here and an end is not in sight. Yes, each day seems to bring another news story about how difficult the crisis is and how cautious travelers should be. Praise the Lord that, even with these very real risks, we still have multiple partner churches sending teams to come and work with us. These churches have committed themselves to support us and others like us as we work together to see the gospel proclaimed, churches planted, and the kingdom advanced here in Central Asia. Together we have prayerfully considered the situation and the uncertainty of the world around us and sought to be wise and led by the Spirit; in light of these things, we have decided to proceed with their trips. Not everyone will choose to still come, and, as long as this is prayerfully considered, that is okay. We are thankful for their continued support in other ways and look forward to future opportunities to work hand-in-hand. Thank you to the churches working with us, and to the thousands of others who are working with our fellow laborers.
- People are getting informed and informing others
Social media is perhaps the most discouraging part about the refugee crisis. We hear and see death and destruction in nearly every post. But it is not all bad. Christians today can be more informed about happenings around the globe like no other time in history. It took weeks and even months for many people to hear about the genocide in Rwanda in 1994. We did not know the extent of the destruction and savagery carried out by the Nazis until the camps were discovered after WWII. One had to read an op-ed piece in a news magazine to really learn about the genocide in Darfur (only 13 years ago). Today, we are a tweet away from knowing the needs of refugees. We have a world of information at our fingertips. Yes, we must be wise and cautious as we sift through the fluff, false stories, exaggerations, and distortions. But I do praise God that Christians are informing themselves and trying to inform others about the plight of refugees.
- Organizations are working
There are organizations big and small doing wonderful work, striving to care for the needs of woman, children, and men who have lost their jobs, homes, and livelihoods. Some of these organizations will be here for a time and make a big, quick impact. Others will trudge for years through the dirty work of helping families put their lives back together after a brutal, savage war (Lord willing the end is near). Both types are needed. I praise God for these organizations working from the US and here on the ground so that the name of Jesus might be heard, his love shown, and his gospel proclaimed. If you are supporting a gospel-centered relief organization, thank you. I have seen the families impacted and their needs met. Tents, meals, medical care, diapers, formula, and much more has been provided through great organizations working hard and faithfully.
Now, I encourage you to go read 2 Corinthians 4:1-18 and ask God to lead you to pray, give, and help refugees in need.
We at B21 are thankful for those who have maintained a prophetic voice in the midst of the Syrian Refugee Crisis. At our panel we will have one of those leading voices, IMB President David Platt, and we will be sure to talk about this pressing issue and others like it. Register by Friday May 14th for discounted admission! Register here.