Thanksgiving is next week. Oh God, we have so much to be thankful for. So much.
These days of thankfulness fill my soul. Thankful for my family, my husband, my children, my church, my friends, my callings and saving grace of Jesus.
We live in an evil, unpredictable world. In a moment life is shattered, broken, and the breath of life is stolen. How do we keep walking faithfully amidst the evil? How do we live lives full of love, absent of fear?
I am not fearless. I have never considered myself to be brave. I feign bravery. I cower in courage.
When I am with my children I act brave often. Earlier this summer a huge wasp entered the van as we were dropping off one of the kids for camp. My girls were screaming as the baby was still buckled in her seat, unable to free herself and get away. The big girl was frozen in her seat, fully capable to get away but seized by fear and incapable of moving. The wasp swarmed around the seats, I pulled my oldest out, her shrieks and screams beating against my ears. I took a folder I had in the car and swatted the wasp away from the baby and quickly got her out. The wasp flew out and all were safe. I sternly looked at my oldest and said she could not be so fearful. She had to at least be brave enough to move.
Inside, I was just like her. I was screaming. I was so afraid. I hate wasps. HATE. I am so afraid of them. But I had to move. I had to act.
I pretend to be brave when I’m so afraid of being stung.
I pretend to be brave for my husband when he is struggling with his own fears. When finances are tight and his job doesn’t feel secure, I put on a brave face and I encourage and speak faithfulness and promises over him, but inside I want to cry out and say “If you don’t feel safe, how am I suppose to feel safe? This scares me! I need you to be strong because I really am not. I am afraid and weak.”
I am not fearless when my children question their faith. When they rebel against us, show anger, get wounded by others, desire attention, lie, cheat, fall on their face and get hurt. I want to do everything in my power to hold them, protect them, shelter them, secure them and make sure the hard and sad stuff of this life never harms or comes near them.
I understand fear. I totally get it.
It is easy to be afraid.
Fear can even be somewhat comfortable.
We expect it. We accept it.
We are resigned to it, knowing hopefully, eventually, it will pass.
But Courage. Bravery.
That takes work.
Courage takes a complete transformation of my mind.
Bravery is hard and burdensome.
Courage must be attained.
Bravery must be sought after.
We must grasp and cling to courage, hoping that the small amount we hold goes further than we imagine.
We must be brave enough to move.
My husband’s family are Cuban refugees. They escaped tyranny and came to this country with a few hundred dollars, no family, one suit case of possessions in hopes to find freedom. They had to start over in a different world, a different culture, speaking a different language all for a chance of freedom.
My husband has said many times that if his family had stayed in Cuba they probably would have never come to know Jesus.
It was the church who took in my mother in laws family in when they traveled from cuba with nothing.
It was a church that gave them a home with a full pantry.
It was the church that provided her father with a good, dignified job.
It was the church that began the softening of our grandfather’s heart and open his eyes to Jesus. Not the Jesus he had never needed from tradition and religion, but the Jesus who loved and took care of the poor and the foreigner.
The stories of my husbands family are filled with the fingerprints of God. He was pursuing them, leading them even when they had no understanding of who He really was. The church was there in their fear, their poverty, their broken and scattered lives. The Church is who took in his great Aunt’s “Peter Pan” children while she was detained in Cuba and then again in Miami for over 4 years. The Church took and cared for her children, teaching them, caring for them, feeding them, clothing them.
I see the refugees of our generation; these men, women and children fleeing for their lives leaving all that they know with nothing but the clothes on their backs in hope for solace and safety. I want to be the church to them. The same church that took in my mother in law and her brother and parents. The same church that showed the love of Jesus to my husband\’s grandparents and changed their lives and the lives of the 3 generations that has come after them.
I can not deny the power of the Church.
In the first century Christians were being persecuted and were dispersed across the known world. Christians fled for their lives, carrying the gospel message with them in courage and strength, fearless of what they may encounter in their new life. And the gospel spread like wildfire. These Christians, known for being “troublemakers,” for stirring up riots, for going against the government fulfilled Gods plan for the world. It was because of their bravery that Christianity spread to the entire known world, to Africa and England, France, the epicenter of Rome and all over Asia.
Their faith and love overcame all fear. Their faith literally moved them across the world.
So, now, in 2015, we Christians, who have heard the word of God and desire to live for Him, we have a very interesting opportunity. All of a sudden the tables are turned. We aren’t being dispersed around the world. The lost are coming to us. The broken are coming to us.
How will we move on their behalf and in the way Jesus moved. Will we move like the 1st century believers did? Will we be wrecked with compassion like Jesus? Or will we be stuck in our fear and anger and resentment?
I understand the fear, I do. I can’t even imagine holding the lifeless body of my loved ones in my arms massacred by senseless hate and pure evil. I understand the desire and need for justice. I don’t deny that at all. The fear, the anger…I understand not wanting to invite terrorist in our land.
But…what about those who aren’t terrorists? What about those who are fleeing in hopes to find shelter, freedom from fear, love and hope and peace?
Do we cast them aside because we are afraid of the few that may be evil?
Do we wash our hands of them, the same way Pontius Pilate cleansed his hands of Jesus’ blood before he gave him over to be crucified?
Does the idea of terrorism in my country scare me? Oh God, yes.
Does the idea of turning my back on broken, dying and lost people who are destined for hell scare me? Oh my God, yes.
I may not have an answer. All I have is what I know to be true. I know my family was changed because of the love shown to refugees by the Church. I know people more than anything desire to be free. I know people desire to be safe. I know people desire to be loved.
Maybe instead of talking, arguing or giving lots of opinions, why don’t we take this opportunity and really be the hands and feet of Jesus.
Imagine what the church could do if we put aside our talk of this crisis and instead we moved on behalf of this crisis.
Whether you are on the side to take in refugees or not, instead of debating or wondering and waiting to see what the government decides, lets reach out in love right now. At the end of the day, no matter where you stand, we are still called to seek justice, love mercy and walk humbly with our God.
So my question to you, no matter how you side in this crisis is What are you doing specifically to ease the suffering of the refugees? If we are the hands and feet of Christ, no matter what our stance is, we should be moved to some kind of action. We should be providing for these people. We should be showing them the love of Christ no matter how we feel about the politics of it all.
Are you moving on the behalf of the broken and battered, abused and poor or are you just talking a bunch of talk and nothing more?
How can we help and be the church right now?
1. We the Church needs to take over. Imagine if we pull our gifts and resources and dollar power and gave these refugees dignified jobs and set up schools, churches, hospitals. What IF we taught them the love of Jesus by giving and showing it tangibly?
2. Use our dollar power. It’s a crazy idea, but when Jesus said give your tunic to your brother that doesn’t have one…I think he was being literal. We may not literally be able to give the clothes off our back, but our money can go a long way. There is a lot of power in our dollar and if we leverage it and give it to organizations that are doing the work of Jesus, organizations that are literally giving them their coats off their backs, imagine what they could do if the church rallied together and sent even more money. If every person in every church gave a red coffee cup worth, we wouldn’t have a refugee problem.
3. No matter your convictions realize we are called to more. There are many crises in this world and we can do a lot of talking and arguing, but Jesus says that “Whatever you did for one of the least of these you did for me.” Matthew 25:40. How are you going to help the least of these right now?
5 ways to move and join great organizations that are doing the work of Jesus right now.
5 ways to move and join great organizations that are doing the work of Jesus right now.
1. Samaritans Purse and the work that they are doing for the refugees in Europe is amazing. They are many times the first ones these poor people meet as they are carried out of the torrential and cold waters of the sea. Samaritans Purse is showing them the love of Jesus and caring for them. You can read more about their work here and I challenge you to give here. Give as much as you can. Give more than you can.
2. A21, an organization run by Nick and Christine Caine is on the ground in Greece as Refugees come into the country. A21 fights against human trafficking and injustice and through their Project Europe Initiative they are taking in refugees, providing water, providing formula for babies, protecting the vulnerable from traffickers who prey on such groups, and more. You can find out more about giving to this initiative and support their work here or donate directly to A21 and/or become a monthly donor here. OR do something more and host your own fundraiser here.
3. Sponsor a Refugee today through The Refugee Initiative and World Orphans. They are creating “Communities of Hope” for the people of Iraq who were persecuted and had to flee for their lives. They provide schools and vocational training to help these people transition with dignity and courage. You can read more about their work here and for $30 a month you can sponsor a family or single refugee here.
5. Help refugees here in our city right now through The Refugee Project. This organization in empowering women in our city who have come here for hope and freedom. The Refugee Projects gives women the power to work well and provide for their families and be kept safe. See how you can get involved here.
What IF the Church was the first to come to aid for these people? What if they saw what the real love of Christ was by the gifts and help and support they were given? What if they were moved by the compassion of others to get to know who Jesus and his followers believe? What if they find salvation because the Church was moved on their behalf?
It could change the world.
It could change one life.
Either one is enough for me.
What about you?