"You weep for each child who has lost a home, for each home that has lost a child.”
Where do Syrian children sleep? Only you know each troubled bed. Mine are safe under quilts and treasured blankies, wrapped in the security of home. Mine are sleeping deeply, even as I wrestle with the midnight thoughts and images I can't escape.
Don’t let me escape them.
Don’t let me forget them.
The world is a broken puzzle, with too many pieces missing. Blown to bits.
What do I do? What do we do?
I don’t know the answers to the questions in their eyes, the cries in their sleep, the fear in their forms. But I do know this:
Jesus, you were a child refugee, fleeing the evil of hell’s forces loosed. Where did you sleep on the run to Egypt? Did you know the terror that sped your parents’ steps day after night after day? Would I have recognized you if you slept on my doorstep?
Jesus, you spoke of loving our enemies, and if ever we needed to figure out what on this blasted earth you meant, now is the time. I do know that love means risk. Love means, almost for certain, having to utter the heavy words, “Father, forgive them.”
Jesus, you knew the bloodiest torture of your time. You know the nightmares they relive. You weep over their crumbled cities. You weep over those who reject your way and send these children into the cold night. You weep over hearts harder than the trampled ground. You weep for each child who has lost a home, for each home that has lost a child.
Jesus, you pronounced blessing on the peacemakers. How can any one of us make peace with trembling hands? It seems the recipe has been forgotten. Yet you spat into the dust and made a balm for healing. You give eyes to see. You took a severed ear and restored it to your enemy. You give ears to hear. You took everything hell had to throw at you, and you made salvation.
I am no miracle worker.
But I know the only way to take any step, to make any peace, to break any curse, is to stay close to you, to embrace you in the child alone and frightened, to look into their eyes and pray—and really mean it. Give me eyes to see. Give me ears to hear. Don’t let me escape them.
My children stir. They murmur and roll over. I will tiptoe close and tuck the covers around them, murmuring my own prayers of gratitude and blessing. And as I place my hands on them, I will pray for the others.
Yes, prayer may only be a beginning. But as we go forward, we must never leave it behind. For it is in prayer that we step close to Jesus and let Him cross our borders.
Come, Lord Jesus.
Lindsey Gallant loves everyday theology and lives with her family on their mini-farm in Prince Edward Island. She blogs at theredlettersblog.com.
Syrian Refugee Statistics
There are an estimated seven million displaced Syrians within Syria—refugees in their own country. (Various reports range from 6.5 million to nearly eight million.) Another 2.1 million Syrians have been registered by the UNHCR, the United Nations’ refugee agency, in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon. Nearly two million Syrians have been registered in Turkey and another 24,000 in North Africa.
Syria’s population in 2011 was 23 million. Given the total of the numbers above, half of the country’s population is on the run.
Half of them are under the age of 18. About three per cent are over the age of 60. About a fifth are under the age of four.
Between April and August of 2015, there were 428,735 asylum applications by Syrians in Europe. (By comparison, there were 138,016 in all of 2014.) More than 50,000 refugees entered Hungary in August 2015 alone; there were less than 3,000 two years earlier.
The situation in Syria is not getting better. Turkish refugee camps, while praised by the UNHCR for being well run, are also overrun.
Andrew Faiz is senior editor of the Presbyterian Record. This is an excerpt from “On The Road,” the cover feature of the November 2015 issue of the Presbyterian Record. Andrew’s full article can be found at http://presbyterianrecord.ca/2015/11/01/on-the-road.
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This article appears in the January/February 2016 Issue of testimony.
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