RICHMOND, VA – Hope* lived on a farm with her family. Her father had an office job and raised chickens on the side. They had a simple life, but she loved it. When she wasn’t studying, she hung out with her girlfriends and went to school parties. For holidays, she would visit her aunts, uncles and grandparents. They would play games and go out together. She dreamed of going to university and becoming a pharmacist.
Then came the war.
She fled Syria with her family. Her 5-year-old brother was shot in the leg and sent to the U.S. with his mother for treatment. She has not seen either of them in more than two years. Her aunts, uncles and grandparents are now scattered in different countries. She has few friends and raises her siblings in place of her mother. Hope is now 18 years old. Her life is now cooking for her family, cleaning the house, doing laundry, and getting her siblings ready for school. Otherwise, she spends her time reading, watching television or on her phone trying to keep up with family and friends from Syria. Her father works with cinder blocks and concrete to provide for the family, but they can barely pay the rent.
This family, like so many others, wants nothing more than a safe place to be together. Their homes have been destroyed, their lives ripped apart. Yet even as they cry out for compassion – with their eyes, their voices, their very existence – others are doing everything they can to provoke us to fear. Brussels. Turkey. Paris. They strike in the places we thought safest. We feel the temptation to paint with broad fearful strokes about these people whom Jesus loves. These are the people I moved overseas to reach, and they now live down the street from many of you. As followers of Jesus, our reality is not one of fearing terrorists or hoping in governments. Our reality is the transforming love of Jesus for the world.
Jesus told us, “And do not fear those who kill the body, but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear Him who can destroy both body and soul in hell” (Matthew 10:28). And what does God require of us? To feed the hungry, care for the sick, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, visit the imprisoned (Matthew 25:31-46). Let us, therefore, act out of love and leave the consequences in the hands of our Heavenly Father, who sovereignly promises to work all things for good (Romans 8:28). Let us trust Him for that.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Brian Andrews is a writer for IMB based in the Middle East.