I have wanted to write about the Syrian refugees for the longest time, but until now, words have escaped me. I have experienced a roller-coaster of emotions as the media decided their story was worth daily front page coverage. My heart wept as children’s bodies were washed up on the shore. and my blood boiled as UK politicians failed to act, before enraging many further, with statements that seemed to disregard the turmoil Syrian civilians have lived through for years, as they tried to justify their political inaction. Situations like ‘Europe’s migrant crisis’, force me to re-evaluate my faith and the things I am living for. I don’t know if you felt the same way I did, but I had a fresh realisation that most of my problems are first world problems, which on any scale, are not really problems at all. Some people wake up wondering how they will find enough food to sustain their children for that day, where they will find shelter when it gets dark, in fear that their relatives will get caught in a crossfire. No mater how you look at it, my problems do not compare.
As I’ve watched as thousands more Syrians have crossed country to seek safety, I have felt pretty helpless beyond journeying to Calais with supplies and making donations for the crisis appeal. It’s not that both of those actions are too small or insignificant, I just felt as though I could do more to constantly have people that are living in situations like those in Syria, at the forefront of my mind.
Love your neighbour as you love yourself. Mark 12:31
I had to ask myself some serious questions:
Do I have love for others? Yes
Do I give to charity? Yes
Do I pray for people that are less fortunate then myself? Yes
But have I given people around me and people the kind of love I give myself? No
Have I made the sacrifices for others to succeed in the way that I have made personal success efforts? No
Do I remember the extreme living situations of my neighbours around the world, and have a serious mission to change them? No…Well yes, in the long term sense. I’d like to ultimately work for a charity and put my career expertise to good use, but what good is the long term for people dying every day, glad if they live to see the rest of the year, let alone the 25 years future in which I feel I’m settled enough in my own life to help others.
As Christians we have instruction to feed the poor, clothe those in need and pray for the sick. We cannot wait for the next charity appeal or our next mission trip to acknowledge the stark difference in the quality of life between us and so many around the world. We need to make an effort to change it.
This isn’t about making the largest donation, or giving all your salary to charity. The influx of Syrian refugees has reminded me that I live a life focused on my own development and I don’t give nearly enough thought to ‘the other’ my fellow earthly citizens, as Christ has encouraged I do.
So people struggle everyday, what can we actually do about it?
For some reason prayer is seen as a cop-out, as if calling on God isn’t the most powerful action you could take. I agree that you shouldn’t pray in isolation of actions, but praying is the most important activity you can engage in. Through your prayer God can empower people in close proximity to those you are praying for to help, and can give you the wisdom you need to be effective.
Give what you can
We are encouraged to give what we can when there is an urgent crisis but why don’t we commit to giving what we can persistently. Let’s not allow ourselves to forget the importance of our giving and the difference that our money can make to someone else. I don’t know if you’ve ever participated in the shoebox appeal in which you wrap a shoe box filled with presents that’s sent to children in need worldwide, but recently I watched a promo video for the cause, and was reminded that it is so appreciated by all those that receive a box. Sometimes we can take for granted just how much of a difference our efforts can make. Let’s not grow weary in doing good (Galatians 6:9), and never forget the hope we could be bringing to someone’s life.
Don’t settle for the way things are
We are so used to the fact that whilst a small minority of people live in 10 bedroom mansions, a large population of people live below the poverty line, we have become desensitised to it. Looking at ourselves in comparison to those who have so much more to spend than us, it is easy to feel as though we are in need ourselves and in our strife for financial success, we forget that the difference between those living in poverty and us is equally vast. If we would just consider how gracious God has been to us, we would never lose perspective on the money we feel we have to be earning and the houses we feel we need to be buying.
I say all this, not to make you feel guilty for being fortunate or to pressure you to give everything you have away. I merely want to encourage you to live with your neighbour in mind, not just the one living three streets away with the black Ferrari, also the one 3000 miles away struggling to survive.
Love you lots,